How did you become a chocolatier? I had a fairly random start - I went to uni and studied economics and politics - but I’ve always been obsessed with food - my dad’s obsessed with food and that’s what instilled my passion for it.
When I graduated I realised I didn’t want a job in economics. So I went and trained at a Cordon Bleu chef school and spent a year there training to be a pastry chef. Then I worked in a big five star hotel pastry department. I started doing bits and bobs of chocolate work and decorations, like creating shards of chocolate on cakes and working on desserts and afternoon teas. I learnt how to work with chocolate and most of the skills, so I decided to follow this path and trained at Rococo artisanal chocolate company before joining Hotel Chocolat two years ago.
What’s your favourite chocolate? Out of the office I like malt balls. I also tend to be a person that goes for a solid chocolate bar. We have a range that have high cocoa content. They all have really distinctive individual characters, like different wines.
How do you create new chocolates? Some of them come from our development team, sometimes ideas will come from the store. We’ll reach out to them and ask them if they have any ideas. Often we will sometimes look at cocktail recipes and use that as inspiration. We’re always trying to think of things we haven’t done.
My colleague had an idea for a chocolate based on a carrot cake using real carrot puree which is currently proving popular and won an award at the Academy of Chocolate. Wherever possible we’ll use the real ingredients or actual alcohol in a recipe, and use all natural colourings too.
What do you love most about working as a chocolatier? It’s a really varied job, you’re always working on new projects – plus you get to eat a lot of chocolate! We have long tasting meetings and get to go to events to talk to the public and teach them about cocoa and ethical chocolate.
What are your top tips for someone considering becoming a chocolatier? I had quite a traditional route, but I think you just need to be really passionate about it. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t really been obsessed. Go to all the chocolate events and try and meet other chocolatiers. You can also practice at home and read good cook books – there’s a whole section in ours that you can do at home.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a chocolatier? I think realistically I would’ve always stayed in food, or perhaps in pastry. I actually used to want to be a plumber too!
What do you look for in a handbag? I’m fond of a handbag that I can shove lots of stuff in. I try to always have a bit of chocolate because when you meet someone they sort of expect it – they nearly always ask ‘where’s the chocolate?!’.