Employee Profiles: John Lankford
Raised in Buckingham County Virginia, my family was very focused on making food and eating food, my father worked in bakeries when I was little and it always fascinated me and would go to work with him whenever I could. I also went to afterschool 4-H programs focused on teaching kids to cook, after college I helped teach a few of these classes as well. After high school I went to Johnson and Wales University, in Charlotte, North Carolina, for an associate's degree in Baking and Pastry Arts: it focused on everything from cake decorating and dessert plating to bread and chocolate making and restaurant management and some business planning. I started at Ritual in April 2017, after relocating here from Denver, Colorado, where I was pastry chef at a catering company named Serendipity Catering. In my spare time I'm usually playing video games, reading, gardening, baking, and doing other kitchen experiments.
My interest in chocolate started while working at a hotel, every day we would have to make truffles for turndown service as well as amenities for our diners during dinner service. Every day we would come up with two to three various types of truffles to make and it made me realize that chocolate was a much broader template than the traditional white-milk-dark choices offered. After my time there, I worked at a company in Charlottesville Virginia called Gearhart's Fine Chocolates where I worked as a chocolatier making assorted truffles, toffees and ganaches.
FAVORITE RITUAL BAR: Vanilla and Ecuador 85%
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO: A mix between Parkway Drive, Chidios and Gojira
WHAT ARE YOU READING: Reading my way back through the Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher, Dune by Frank Herbert, and the Noma Guide to Fermentation by David Zilber and René Redzepi.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT CHOCOLATE: The variety of flavors offered by each individual origin and the ability to pick and choose flavors to draw out from that chocolate by varying the process we use to make that chocolate, adding different ingredients to it, or by blending it with others. I'm also super enthused by the process that we use to make the chocolate, these older machines that we use to make the chocolate aren't something that everyone gets to see, use, or even know very much about.
FUN FACT: I'm lactose intolerant and have a career that is almost entirely based around dairy.
IF YOU COULD TRAVEL ANYWHERE: I've always wanted to go to Scotland, haven't been yet.