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Women Making Waves unites Breda SLO and gay rights advocate Donna Cruciani for a Pride-themed chocolate workshop 

Looking for a more tight-knit way to celebrate Pride Month this year? Try a chocolate-making workshop that advocates for inclusivity.

"This month is going to be extra special because it's going to be Pride themed," said San Luis Obispo pastry chef Florencia Breda of Breda Pasticceria e Cioccolateria, aka Breda SLO. "Some of the proceeds this time are going to be given to the Gala [Pride and Diversity] Center, which is very, very important."

click to enlarge HOME GROWN TALENT Breda SLO chocolatier Florencia Breda pinpointed the inspiration behind her intricate chocolate-making style to the art of glass blowing that originated in the Italian island of Murano near her home city Veneto. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FLORENCIA BREDA
  • Photo Courtesy Of Florencia Breda
  • HOME GROWN TALENT Breda SLO chocolatier Florencia Breda pinpointed the inspiration behind her intricate chocolate-making style to the art of glass blowing that originated in the Italian island of Murano near her home city Veneto.

For two hours on June 24, Breda and her sous chef Jessica Garcia will teach a group of roughly 35 people how to temper chocolate, hand paint the shells, and fill them up—Breda SLO style. This is the first themed workshop for the 2-year-old chocolate and pastry shop, and the chefs will demonstrate the art of chocolate making using the rainbow colors of the Pride flag. The workshop will take place in the private section of Peruvian restaurant Mistura located in the Creamery Marketplace.

"It's really a blank canvas to them, so they can free their creativity and paint whatever they want," Breda told New Times on June 14.

Breda's Pride workshop returns to its roots with the help of women-centric events platform Women Making Waves. Founded in 2019 by Tyler Skinner, Women Making Waves co-creates and hosts in-person events that highlight women from a diverse set of industries. In 2023, the group helped member Breda organize her first chocolate-making workshop called Treat Yo' Self.

click to enlarge FULL CIRCLE Women Making Waves founder Tyler Skinner (lower center) celebrates the end of Breda SLO's first chocolate-making workshop last year with the chocolatier and members of her events group. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TYLER SKINNER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Tyler Skinner
  • FULL CIRCLE Women Making Waves founder Tyler Skinner (lower center) celebrates the end of Breda SLO's first chocolate-making workshop last year with the chocolatier and members of her events group.

The chocolatier and the female-focused group joined hands again a few months ago to organize the Pride version of the workshop. With 10 people signed up as of June 14, Breda and Skinner have space for more participants.

"I think these events create intimate experiences," Skinner said. "I think with food, they're laughing [together] and sharing their personal journeys. We're doing one activity that unites."

Skinner is looking forward to making chocolates with Breda. She has a soft spot for her guava-filled chocolates and lavender lemon sweets.

"I always ask her to select her favorites or whatever she's feeling in that moment," Skinner said. "It makes me feel good because I know it's something special for her."

While chocolate enthusiasts of all skill levels can participate in Breda's workshop, her treats are anything but amateur. Every three days, she and her sous chef produce a couple thousand pieces of intricately crafted chocolates that are not only served at the shared space in Mistura, but also delivered to restaurants around the county, including Hotel SLO, Mirazur in Los Osos, Lunada in Cayucos, and Etto Pasta Bar in Paso Robles.

These delicacies are miniature but pack a big punch. A glass counter in Mistura displays the little chocolate bites in a multitude of forms—bright yellow pineapples, red gift boxes complete with bows, geometric hearts, dark purple mounds splattered with galaxy patterns, and adorable spotted ladybirds. They're almost too beautiful to eat.

Breda takes advantage of seasonal offerings in her desserts. The sweets produced in the June workshop will feature fruity flavors along with the traditional milk and dark chocolate ganache fillings. Equipped with their own workstation, tools, and generous pours of Italian wines, her workshop students will learn how to create galaxy-style chocolates that are filled with a chili-infused mango concoction. They'll be part of the 20 chocolates the students get to make and bring home.

Trained under renowned Italian chef Vincenzo Guarino and esteemed Puerto Rican pastry chef Antonio Bachour, Breda pinpointed the inspiration behind her chocolates to her upbringing in Veneto, Italy.

click to enlarge WELL TEMPERED Resembling pineapples and other fanciful shapes, Breda SLO's chocolates look and taste beautiful. Students of a Pride-themed chocolate-making workshop will get to take home a box of 20 rainbow-colored chocolates that they whipped up. - PHOTO FROM BREDA SLO FACEBOOK
  • Photo From Breda SLO Facebook
  • WELL TEMPERED Resembling pineapples and other fanciful shapes, Breda SLO's chocolates look and taste beautiful. Students of a Pride-themed chocolate-making workshop will get to take home a box of 20 rainbow-colored chocolates that they whipped up.

"There is an island in Venice that is called Murano where glass blowing was born," she said. "Each piece of glass blown is what gives me inspiration for the chocolate."

Through a condensed format, Breda will teach students how to achieve the appropriate shine and snap on their Valrhona chocolates that resemble the properties of glass.

The chocolate-making workshop will also include other members of the LGBTQ-plus community and Women Making Waves. Prior to Breda's class, queer rights advocate Donna Cruciani will give a presentation about the difficulties around coming out and receiving adequate support from the community.

"Some of my speech is about coming out and ... being outed actually at work back in 1985," Cruciani said. "I was basically left alone in my desperation. That event made me say that I was going to change the culture back at PPL in Pennsylvania where I worked."

Cruciani went on to create the business resource group FUSE for the Pennsylvania natural gas distribution company PPL. It's dedicated to promoting workplace equality and supporting the LGBTQ-plus community. For the past four years, she's called Paso Robles home and is a member of Women Making Waves.

"I would love to get involved in some groups locally in Paso Robles and Atascadero," she said. "It's a shame in 2024 that we're still fighting."

Breda, who is also a member of the LGBTQ-plus community, said that organizing the Pride workshop moved her to start donating the proceeds from every monthly workshop to local resource groups like Lumina Alliance.

"It's good to invite people to know that we are supporting, especially in San Luis Obispo, which is absolutely beautiful as a community in supporting the LGBTQ community," she said. "I'm very happy Women Making Waves came, and I'm always going to support when I can." Δ

Staff Writer Bulbul Rajagopal remains mesmerized by Breda SLO's chocolates. Shield her eyes from their sheen at [email protected].

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