Coloring, airbrushing, molding, filling, hardening, releasing. Do these terms ring any bells with some readers? TU/e employees Rianne van Eerd and Caspar van Bommel were run off their feet with these tasks in the lead up to Easter. Under the name ART & CO chocolates - ART are Rianne's initials and CO are Caspar's - they produce a considerable number of handmade chocolate bonbons, four times a year.
This portrait series is about working from home and, like others, Rianne (staff member at the Research cluster at DAZ and information analyst in the BI team) and her partner Caspar (research technician at the Department of Applied Physics) are doing this too. “I have an office job and can work from home just fine. My meetings are held via Skype or MS Teams. I can easily collect data to compile rankings from home, and am working with the project team on the Open Science Policy plan. But of course it is nicer if you can see your colleagues in person and be together,” says Rianne.
For Caspar it is a little more difficult to carry out his normal work as a research technician with the Plasma & Materials Processing group run by Erwin Kessels. “My work normally consists of 80 percent lab work and 20 percent at the computer. The latter has become a hundred percent. We can't do any maintenance work on machines or adjust their settings. I try to do a couple of hours' computer work and, for the rest, to make preparations for tasks we plan to do at a later date.”
Before TU/e closed its doors, Caspar and his colleagues switched almost all the machines to stand-by mode. “We maintain the vacuum in the vacuum machines, it's better that way. A colleague does the rounds regularly to check that everything is still running, that there hasn't been a power outage and that no tubes have become detached. This is all we are permitted to do.”
So, they continue doing their work as best they can, but what has kept Rianne and Casper extremely busy in recent weeks is coming up with ideas for and producing a whopping seven hundred (!) handmade bonbons.
This is something they do four times a year in their former garage and now chocolate studio at their home in Lieshout. Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter and Mothering Sunday are top days for chocolate lovers and with ART & CO chocolates they meet their needs lovingly. “We plan our leave around these dates so that we can make the bonbons,” says Rianne.
Sixteen different bonbons have been conceived and made by the couple. Caspar is good at developing recipes. Which filling would be right, which tastes go well together? “There comes a point when you have tried out every taste there is, so then you come up with something of your own,” says Caspar. “In winter we choose more spicy recipes, such as orange and cinnamon. In the Easter collection it's lighter, think of strawberry or pineapple-turmeric.”
Coloring the bonbons is a task Rianne enjoys very much and finds relaxing. And working like this, after six days they have produced forty boxes, each one holding sixteen special bonbons. These they deliver together to friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues who have placed an order. At the appropriate physical distance, of course.
And finally the big question: how many of these chocolate bonbons disappear into their own mouths? Laughter from the other end of the Skype line: “A number that's a little on the high side! But that's why we exercise every day.”