Interview – Janet from Grown Up Marshmallows

What got you interested in marshmallows?

I didn’t use to like the pink and white marshmallows in the shop. So, I thought there was no chance I would eat marshmallows when making them. Once perfected, I now have to taste every single batch of Grown Up Marshmallows!

When did you first make marshmallows?

I first made marshmallows as a treat for my students in the classroom who made a significant effort.

How was your first attempt at making marshmallows?

My first attempt was poles apart from the alchemy that developed Grown Up Marshmallows.

JAT Making Grown Up Marshmallow

How and from where do you source your ingredients?

My ingredients are either home grown organically or ethically sourced as locally as possible to consider my green food miles.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

I am particularly proud of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall’s reaction when she sampled my Grown Up Marshmallows and exclaimed. ‘Oh those are delicious!’

What’s your best-selling product?

Summer Fruit and Sicilian Lemon are probably my best selling marshmallows. It’s so difficult to call when everyone has their favourite. Best buy our new Variety box I say, which will be launched at the Exeter Chocolate Festival!

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am most proud of making it this far. It’s been a struggle at times, but I have stuck by my ethics and philosophy of the company that tries to act ‘out of consideration for the planet’ throughout production, provenance or biodegradable packaging.

Liquid Grown Up Marshmallows

What are your ambitions for the future?

My ambitions for the future are to perfect the Vegan Marshmallows. I have produced a great tasting vegan marshmallow, but simply cannot produce it on a commercial scale as yet… but I will!

What’s your mission statement?

Grown Up Marshmallows mission statement is ‘…out of consideration for the planet.’ The environment and minimising my impact upon it has been my passion ever since I can remember. I certainly wasn’t going to abandon that when developing my product.

What’s your favourite marshmallow?

My favourite Grown Up Marshmallow is Dipped Chocolate. All that soft vanilla marshmallow dipped in 72% Fair Trade Chocolate is just… so yum!

 

You can buy Janet’s delicious marshmallows at the Exeter Chocolate Festival! But if you can’t wait until then to get your hands on them, you can buy online by clicking here.

Interview – John from Cacoa Elora

What got you interested in chocolate?IMG_20190921_103323_resized_20191004_062109133

I started off working with other people’s chocolate, Belgian then single origin. And then I came across a few bean to bar makers which got me thinking it would be great to make it from scratch and have more influence over our products. We still do it on a small scale although every minute at home seems to be taken up with chocolate making these days.

When did you first make chocolate?

January 2017.

How was your first attempt at making chocolate?

Pretty good although we seed tempered at the time and until we switched to marble hand tempering we kept having difficulties. After making a few whites we stopped out of frustration, as the grinder was just not wanting to behave itself.

How and from where do you source your beans?

We do notice that makers are precious about their sources but wherever possible we get as direct as possible or use traders who support growers. As we work across a large range of origins we buy in smaller quantities too which has also been a challenge. We are, for example, the only UK maker working with beans from St Vincent & the Grenadines, and one of the few who rates Ugandan beans.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

We won a Great Taste Award for our St Vincent. Meeting the lead actress from Line of Duty one time doing a food and craft market. Combining being a maker with a full-time job and of course featuring in Andrew Baker’s recent book Bean to Bar A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Britain.

What’s your best-selling product?

Our Almond Dark Milk 70g bar, the 74% Ugandan dark and our 80% Colombian Huila dark.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Keeping going despite Brexit and the economic downturn.
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What are your ambitions for the future?

To move production out of our kitchen and to get stocked in a number of exclusive outlets alongside other makers.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

After ours I like Omnom’s chocolate from Iceland, chocolate by Fris Holm Denmark, and from the UK – Tosier, Bullion, Seed amongst the bean to bar makers.

You can buy from Cacoa Elora at the Exeter Chocolate Festival. But if you can’t wait until then to get your hands on some, you can buy online by clicking here.

Interview – Nikki from Frandie Macaron

What got you interested in Macarons?

I started with cake decoration about 8 years ago, and then decided to learn more patisserie and went to the Ashburton Cookery School to get a diploma in professional patisserie. I found then that my favourite items were macarons, and tempering and moulding chocolates. I took over Frandie Macaron last year, and hope to soon add moulded chocolates and truffles to the selection of products, as well as many more chocolatey flavours of macarons and fillings!

How was your first attempt at making Macarons?

My first attempt was a disaster back in 2014, but this was before I really knew what they even were. I really overmixed it and ended up with a baking sheet with one massive splodge of macaron mix spread over it from edge to edge. Needless to say, I baked it anyway and snacked on it, but didn’t even attempt to make a filling and finish it properly.

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How and from where do you source your ingredients?

I try to stay as local as possible, most of my ingredients are from Forest Produce who get it all from around Devon, using the best quality possible of everything. Chocolate is also from them, I tend to use Callebaut for most of my recipes, and Vahlrona cocoa powder.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

The salted caramel macaron, lemon meringue macaron, and the salted caramel Gloop! sauce all have Great Taste Awards from recent years. I have also had some great fun in recent months coming up with new chocolate flavours using both white chocolate and dark chocolate.

What’s your best-selling product?

Salted Caramel Macarons, Salted Caramel Gloop! and Chocolate Fudge Gloop!

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What achievement are you most proud of?

My Diploma from Ashburton Cookery school, and taking over Frandie Macaron and continuing the business alone as a sole trader!

What are your ambitions for the future?

I plan on adding a few new products to the business. I am also looking into other jobs within the food industry that I may be able to do alongside the business.

What’s your mission statement?

Keep Calm and Macaron! I pride myself on providing the world around me with perfect little round macarons filled with pure joy and love! Happiness makes the world go round, and sweet treats are one of the leading causes of the ever contagious smile! Frandie macarons are also much bigger than the standard macaron size, which is what makes them that little bit more special.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

All of them!!! Probably has to be between the Callebaut Gold, and Valrhona dark chocolate range.

 

You will be able to buy from Frandie Macaron at the Exeter Chocolate Festival. If you can’t wait until then to get your hands on some, you can buy them by clicking here.

Interview – Russ from Grim Reaper

What got you interested in chocolate?GR2

As a trained pastry chef it was part of my City and Guilds qualification. I always wanted a spicy chocolate and none were available via retail shops, so I created my own.

When did you first make chocolate?

1990.

How was your first attempt at making chocolate?

5 stars… seriously, it didn’t go well!

How and from where do you source your beans/ingredients?

I don’t use beans now, I use Belgian pellets as we make over 20k bars a year, along with pepper sauces, oils and so on, it’s got a little too big to do. However the compromise hasn’t affected the quality, and it allows us to remain fully competitive with 3 bars for £10.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

We have over 70 industry awards for our products, I guess that speaks for itself seeing as we didn’t start trading until 2010. We are known in USA/Canada/South Africa/Australia/EU and further reaches of Europe/Asia, but not so well known here! Probably most proud of our branding images.

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What’s your best selling product?

Evil One Hot Sauce and The Raven Hot Sauce are equally best sellers.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Creation of Purgatory, took two months of failures to get it right on attempt 56.

What are your ambitions for the future?

To grow the company by gathering more wholesale clients.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

Dark – 70%.

 

You will be able to purchase Grim Reaper products, from chilli chocolate, to oils and sauces at the Exeter Chocolate Festival. If you can’t wait until then to get your hand on some, you can buy online by clicking here.

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Interview – Kate, founder of Choc Ami

What got you interested in chocolate?

My interest stemmed from an early age. I’ve always loved eating it (I’m a girl; can’t help it)!

When did you first make chocolate? And how was your first attempt?chocami_kate2resize_54796

I first made chocolate when I was 10. My mother had an hotel and I remember making a ghastly concoction which contained an industrial amount of cheap catering chocolate  melted and mixed with lemon juice. It was absolutely disgusting!

How and from where do you source your beans / ingredients?

I source my ingredients from various suppliers, as long as it’s ethically traceable and sustainable.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

My customers are testament to my products as they return time and time again.

What’s your best-selling product?

Definitely my bespoke truffles. They are to die for.

What achievement are you most proud of?

The constant development of my truffle recipes.

What are your ambitions for the future?

My main ambition is to get my name out there and build my business further.
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What’s your mission statement?

All of my chocolates are hand crafted in Dorset and made in small batches for exceptional quality and taste.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

My favourite chocolate is definitely Equateur 76% single estate.
You can buy Kate’s handmade chocolates at the Exeter Chocolate Festival. But if you can’t wait until then to get your hands on them, you can buy them from her website by clicking here.

Interview – English Spirit Distillery

What is your chocolate product? 

Our Chocolate Chilli Vodka Liqueur is our main chocolate product at the moment: although this year we have also made up limited edition batches of Chocolate Rose vodka liqueur (liquid Turkish Delight), Chocolate Mint vodka liqueur (liquid After Eight) and Chocolate Orange vodka liqueur (liquid Terry’s Choc Orange). We’ve also made Cocoa Gin for Hotel Chocolat, and a Chocolate Spiced Rum for another of our clients.

What got you interested in chocolate? 

It’s an amazing flavour loved by all – but there aren’t really many good liquid versions available. So it was our mission to make a fantastic chocolate alcohol – using the powers of alcohol and chemistry to extract different flavours that you wouldn’t usually get when eating it by the bar! 

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When did you first make chocolate liqueur? 

About six years ago we released our first chocolate vodka liqueur, “Chodka” – which was lovely and we ran a few batches of – but we have since moved on to a different recipe!

How was your first attempt at making chocolate? 

Making Chodka was OK as even by then we’d had plenty of experience with distilling the vodka ourselves from sugar beet (we never import any of our alcohol base spirits from elsewhere, like the vast majority of other vodka producers in the UK). However, we did attempt to make a chocolate cream vodka liqueur…the chocolate was very nice but we couldn’t stop the cream from separating in the bottle, so we’ve parked that one for now.

How and from where do you source your ingredients? 

We produce the key ingredient – the vodka – ourselves: distilled from scratch from East Anglian sugar beet, which gives the vodka smoothness, a nice mouthfeel, and an undertone of cream soda. Then we select cocoa flavourings that match the vodka perfectly; add a small amount of chilli into the still for some nice warmth to wrap up the flavour: and bolster the whole taste experience with a touch of English sugar.

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products? 

We’ve never entered our Chocolate Chilli Vodka Liqueur in for an award before: but we’re fairly sure it’s the only chocolate flavoured alcoholic product in the UK to be produced with the distillery’s own alcohol, as opposed to imported from somewhere else. So we’re proud that this is truly artisan!

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What’s your best-selling product? 

Our best selling liqueur has traditionally been our Old Fashioned English Toffee Vodka liqueur – but the Chocolate Chilli Vodka Liqueur is not far behind in popularity! We’re making a name for ourselves across the country with both.

What achievement are you most proud of? 

We’re proud of quite a few things: being one of the first small batch distilleries to open in the UK; the first distillery to make rum here in the UK; our master distiller having arguably more varied distilling experience than anyone else in the UK; having worked with nearly 100 brands to create bespoke craft alcoholic products for them; but possibly most importantly, distilling all of our alcohol from scratch (and not importing base spirit): an extreme rarity in the UK, but truly artisan and well worth the effort.

What are your ambitions for the future? 

We’re opening a distillery (and visitor centre) at Treguddick Manor in Cornwall in Spring 2020, which will run alongside our current distillery at Great Yeldham Hall in Essex. Ultimately our founder and Master Distiller Dr John Walters wants to open a chain of visitor centres, shops and distillery kitchens around the country (to celebrate the best of England) within the next 10 years. We want to show people what real artisan spirits have to offer as an entirely new form of flavour cuisine.

What’s your mission statement? 

To make the best spirits money can buy: at a price people can afford.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate? 

At the distillery we all love chocolate – we eat it and drink quite a lot of it! We would probably favour milk chocolate, especially for our own product, as the creamy taste lends itself well to the sugar beet base spirit, as well as the nice mouthfeel and sweetness also provided by the sugar. Good dark chocolate is also gorgeous but we haven’t gotten around to making a batch of something with that in yet!

What other products do you do? 

Vodkas, gins, rums, brandies, sambuca, single malts, things that only we have invented like a Cucumber Spirit, eau de vies, and plenty of liqueurs – all distilled entirely from scratch to a quality standard not found anywhere else. (We believe our distillery produces the world’s widest variety of spirits and liqueurs distilled under one roof!

Where are you based? 

We started at The Old Salt Depot in Cambridgeshire, have been based at Great Yeldham Hall in Essex for the last 4 years, and have been based at Treguddick Manor in Cornwall for the last 2 years (where we are opening our second distillery, visitor centre, shop, kitchen and botanical garden in Spring 2020).

 

English Spirit Distillery will be at the Exeter Chocolate Festival, but if you can’t wait until then to get your hands on their products you can buy them on their website by clicking here.

Interview – Bryn from the Dartmoor Chocolate Company

What got you interested in producing confectionery?Major_Series_06

I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but there’s also a long family history of working as confectioners, sugar-boilers and the like, stretching back at least five generations.

Originally, my forebears came down from Scotland to work at Tate & Lyle around the turn of the 20th century, their son (my great-great-grandfather) served in the Great War as a cook – there’s a much loved family tale about how he cured a horse carcass and made it edible to feed the men in his section of the trenches, with his commanding officer remarking that ‘it was the best piece of boiled ham he’d ever had!’

After the war, he set up a sweet shop in Canning Town and produced his own wares. After him, the tradition dulls a little – just some very tasty homemade fudges and so forth. Now I’m hoping to follow in their footsteps. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I developed an interest in producing sweets, chocolates and ice creams. A friend passed away very suddenly, which led me to re-evaluate what I was doing with my life. I decided to make the most and live more, so I started cooking more and taking sweets & treats into work for colleagues. The feedback was very positive and I quite enjoyed making things, which led to S’mores, truffles, banoffee bites and by the summer there was ice cream and all sorts!

After sixteen weeks of making sweets and ice creams, I’d put together quite a range. People had started to suggest I make a business of it, so I came back to the family home in Dartmoor, pitched the idea to a local cafe – I’d use their facilities at night and work the hours off when needed, sell some wares through them and the rest online. Just two months after, I applied for the apprenticeship that had just opened up at Badgers’ Holt.

The next year was a mixture of long nights of working on sweets, long days of working in hot kitchens and balancing a business with chef training. Several fairs, shows and competitions later, I’m here.

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When did you first make confectionery?

About three years ago now. I started off working in the small kitchen in my flat, scooping and rolling ganache in cocoa powder after work to make something nice for my colleagues.

How was your first attempt at making confectionery?

It was rather delicious and a little messy. That was what sparked my interest in researching chocolate and sugar based confectionery. The next step was creating a shell for the ganache, then getting the tempering perfect for that delicious ‘snap’ when you bite into it and next on to all manner of flavours, fillings and refining of techniques. I still can’t believe it all started just a few years ago in a small kitchen in Dorset.

How and from where do you source your ingredients?

I always strive to use the best quality ingredients I can. The better the starting materials, the finer the resulting product will be. That’s why all the chocolate I use is sourced from Callebaut – they have a great range with plenty of variation.

My dairy ingredients are sourced from producers in the South-West. I’m currently using the most local items I can get from supermarkets, but I’m working on getting a trade account with a commercial fruit, vegetable & dairy supplier that works closely with Devon farmers to supply some of the best ingredients I’ve ever seen.

As far as fruit-based ingredients go, I either use essences from Uncle Roy’s, a fantastic group based in Scotland, who use all-natural ingredients as much as possible. Where possible, I’ll use real fruit, fresh from the grocer. However, sometimes you need something stronger for that ultimate fruity-zesty hit, in which case I’ll turn to Major International, who are arguably one of the cornerstones of the culinary
sector…and, of course, the sugar comes from Tate & Lyle.

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Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

I entered the Major Series earlier in 2019 with a display of truffles and a couple of croquembouche, earning a silver medal. I had to work on the day of the judging and results, but was told that the judges were impressed with what they’d seen and tried. Had I used different fillings, instead of just ganaches, I’d have been given a gold medal. In any case, they were pleased to see a driven self-starter and asked me to come back next year in February to see how the judging is done and hopefully to learn a few things about being the best I can in making confectionery.

I’ve also had two senior members of the Craft Guild of Chefs compliment the quality of my truffles, which is a high accolade in my books.

What’s your best-selling product?

By far it has to be the chocolate truffles – I’ve had people travel from as far as Italy to come and try them. The second best would be the Scottish Tablet, with my largest single order being fifteen kilograms.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I couldn’t pin it down to just one. It’d have to be a tie between the silver medal earlier this year and contributing towards the Taste of the West silver award at my workplace.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I’d like to take the Dartmoor Chocolate Company on as a full-time venture and grow the business to a size where I can take on one or more people to share in the fun of making these goodies. Currently, I offer chocolates, fudges, sweets and ice creams – I’d love to branch into cakes, pastries and all manner of desserts and supply as many businesses as I can in the region. I also want to keep learning as much as I can about this field, partly to keep improving the quality of my wares and partly because I find it strangely fascinating.

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What’s your mission statement?

The Dartmoor Chocolate Company was founded to make all manner of delicious sweets and treats for people. The aim is to make people happy. To be able to provide something good for everyone, at a fair price. But it’s about more than providing good quality wares and service. It’s about keeping the traditions of the confectionery industry alive – producing things by hand where possible, in the old ways. Free of unnecessary artificial ingredients and preservatives. It’s about using that skillset to provide people with a bespoke range insofar as possible. If you’d like a certain product in a different style or flavour, you should be able to have that – without the exorbitant price associated with many organisations who offer custom options. It’s about making sure that people and businesses alike can have delicious, high-quality products just how they want them. It’s about making life sweet.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

I’m a terrible chocolate fiend, I love all kinds. That said, I must confess that I do love a bar of Dairy Milk now and again. Callebaut makes gorgeous Belgian chocolate, but sometimes you can’t beat the sweets you grew up with.

You will be able to get your hands on Bryn’s handmade chocolates and treats at the Exeter Chocolate Festival. If you would like to contact the Dartmoor Chocolate Company before then, click here.