An international importer of specialty chocolates has set up a "chocolate institute" in Irvine.

Qzina Specialty Foods of Florida recently opened the Qzina Institute of Chocolate & Pastry in Irvine. The facility is a training center for pastry chefs and chocolatiers. One of the key workshops offered at the institute is a "Bean to Chocolate Bar" program.

Attendees of the pricey two-day workshop learn the history of chocolate - from Mayan origins to modern day production. The program - geared for food industry professionals - involves roasting, winnowing (the process that removes the shells of the bean), grinding, refining, and conching (mixing that determines the final texture and flavor of the chocolate).

"Anyone who is looking to expand upon their dessert and pastry skill set and who wants to witness the latest and greatest in quality chocolate and pastry making are invited to attend ongoing product demonstrations," the company said.

Photo courtesy of Kerry Frank

Qzina Institute of Chocolate & Pastry, which is already open, will host a grand opening event next month. The "bean to bar" class costs $995 per person and includes lunch over the two-day workshop.

Registrations must be made at least three days before the scheduled program. To register click here.

Address: 9461 Irvine Center Drive

2012 Dates

March 5-6 Dominican Beans, Hispaniola Trinitario from the Conacada Coop
April 2-3 Peruvian Beans, 100% Pure Nacional, Crillo from the Maranon River Canyon
May 7-8 Trinidadian Beans, 100% Trinitario from the Gran Couva Estate
June 4-5 Ecuadorian Beans, 100% Arriba Nacional from the Los Rios Province
Aug. 6-7 Peruvian Beans, 100% Pure Nacional, Fortunato #4 from Maranon River Canyon
Sept. 27-28 Hawaiian Beans, Trinitario Forestero Blend from Tom Sharkey's Plantation, Hilo
Oct. 29-30 Ecuadorian Beans, 100% Arriba Nacional from Vinces, Manabi, Esmeraldes

-Story by Jaryd Lucero/Staff writer The Orange County Register