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.

FB_IMG_1560764327562

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!

IMG_20190327_104139_584

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.

GR3

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.

GR1

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.
chocami_2000PX_54860

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 – 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.

Truffles_2

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.

Chocolate_Horses

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.

Major_Series_Prep

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.

Interview – Helen from Harth Truffles

When did you first make chocolate?IMG_4607

The first truffle we ever made was to showcase a chocolate tart from our restaurant in Bath. We attended a handful of local festivals to promote the restaurant in the early days of taking it on and felt we needed something tangible to show people our food. After receiving some lovely feedback and having quite a few people interested in buying them, we decided to set up a separate project focused solely on chocolate.

What is your mission statement?

Chocolate should be an indulgence and something to be savoured. Having a small amount of something delicious should be a treat and the beauty of our product is that you only need a small amount to get your fix! We truly believe in only using the simplest and finest of ingredients and working as responsibly and sustainably as possible. It also needs to look pretty!

Where are you based and what do you love most about the area you work in?

We’re based in a small rural village called Ubley in The Mendip Hills. What I love most about our peaceful location is how beautiful the views are. We can see both Blagdon and Chew Valley Lake from our upstairs window and I feel very lucky to have the countryside all around us. It feels like a little pocket of calm.

When did you set the business up and what inspired you?

We started Harth back in 2017 in between having our two boys. We also own a Vegan
Restaurant in the heart of Bath and Harth developed from a chocolate dessert we used to sample in the form of a truffle at various festivals to showcase the restaurants’ food. Our customers showed an interest in buying them, and so Harth was born. Our inspiration has always been to create food simply, using the finest ingredients. As with the restaurant we work with incredible seasonal plants rather than using substitutes to replace animal products. The same can be said for our chocolate. We add no preservatives or additives and believe all things can be enjoyed in moderation.

Harth

What do you love most about what you do?

Making chocolates is a gentle process and requires patience and calm. This is something that feels a world away when being a full time mum, so the contrast for me is a welcome one. I also enjoy meeting new people at the different markets we do. Everyone has a story and it’s fantastic meeting other traders and hearing their creative journeys as well as getting to see and enjoy their products.

What is your favourite product and why?

I love our Fireside truffle. For me, it is the perfect balance of flavours and conjures up beautifully my favourite time of year, Autumn. I love food that strikes a memory or a feeling and this truffle always makes me think of sitting round a campfire, quietly enjoying the evening sunset. I also love watching peoples reaction when they try it. I like seeing them go through the transition of flavours and tasting something they didn’t expect. When the warmth of the Cayenne sings through at the end, I like seeing them smile as if they’ve just experienced something completely new.

How/where do you source your ingredients?harth2

We choose to use Chocolat Madagascar who responsibly source their cocoa from the
Sambirano Rainforest in Madagascar. Farmers are paid fairly for the quality of the rare cocoa harvested and the beans are crafted in to fine chocolate in the local factories, which helps to raise the skills, values and ultimately contributes to the Madagascan economy. Chocolat Madagascar pride themselves not only on the craft of their product but on providing sustainable wealth at source, whilst reducing the impact on the environment.

For our truffles we use 100% cocoa solid chocolate, which contains no sugar. Because of this we are also able to use our own blend of sugars, including an organic, unrefined cane sugar, and completely control the sweetness of our product. For our peanut butter caramels we use an incredible sugar called Panela, made sustainably in Columbia from freshly harvested cane juice.

What are you proud of and what are your ambitions?

I am extremely proud of how far we’ve come with Harth as it has been a side project and grew organically from the resources available to us from our restaurant. In between having children, Harth has grown to be something special which I hope will inspire our children to see both of their parents putting something they truly believe in, out in to the world for people to experience. The beauty of Harth is it could take us in many different directions, depending on what products we create and how they fly. I believe as long as we stay true to using great ingredients and putting ourselves in to our product, then Harth with continue to grow. It has a long way to go, but only time will tell what that direction may be.

Harth Truffles will be at the Exeter Chocolate Festival, but if you can’t wait until November to get your hands on some of their scrummy vegan truffles, you can buy direct from their website by clicking here.

Salcombe Dairy – From Ice Cream to Bean-to-Bar Chocolate!

History

Salcombe Dairy has been making artisan ice-cream in South Devon for forty years – and celebrated this milestone birthday in June 2019. The alchemistic factory has been at the heart of the town’s meteoric rise in popularity as Devon’s most stunning holiday destination. Still based on Island Street where all of the ice-cream is made, Salcombe Dairy is well known for deliciously indulgent ice-cream made only from natural ingredients, as well as a range of natural sorbets. Salcombe Dairy has been proudly making scrumptious ice-cream in this beautiful place since 1979, using local cream combined with the best recipe ingredients we can source locally and around the world – to create one of the Great Taste top fifty foods in Britain.
shutterstock_59732917

Awards

Salcombe Dairy’s ice cream, sorbets and now chocolate have won more than sixty Great Taste, Taste of the West and Food & Drink Devon awards. That’s a lot of trophies! Blush. The secret to our success is staying modest and always striving for perfection – for example it took us over a year to perfect the recipe for our new Salcombe gin sorbet, and a new product is never launched until the entire production and tasting team are 100% happy with it!

Ethics

We’re a small company with a big heart. We have a very loyal team of workers livin’ the dream of working in an ice cream and chocolate factory in Devon…so when you eat our products you know that they have been made in Salcombe with love and care – using cream from the local farm. All of our chocolate and ice creams are made in a factory which is entirely nut free, palm oil free and egg free. We will never use any artificial ingredients – everything we make is 100% natural. That’s probably why customers have been asking for our ice cream consistently for the past forty years!
We are striving to leave a lighter footprint in the beautiful part of the planet we work in – and are always trying to source less single use plastic packaging and consumables, and more reusable and recyclable and now compostable packs.

Non-Dairy

We recognise that vegan and dairy-free connoisseurs still love high quality chocolate and ices! Our range of dark chocolate is dairy free and suitable for vegans as well as being indulgent and sumptuous…and we even make a chocolate sorbet.
p

Chocolate

Our new baby is bean-to-bar chocolate, launched in Spring 2018. We source organic, fairly traded cacao from the Peruvian rainforest and melange the nibs in Salcombe with raw cane sugar before conching, tempering and moulding into chocolate of the highest quality to make outstanding chocolate in a spectrum of flavours our fans rave about. In the 19th Century, Salcombe was a busy trading port for ships carrying fruit, cocoa, sugar and rum. At the mouth of the estuary lies The Bar, a sand spit mentioned in Tennyson’s famous poem ‘The crossing of the bar’ so it seemed appropriate to call our chocolate The Bar, and mirror in chocolate all of our ice-cream flavours for which we are famous.
We’ve already won a Great Taste Gold award for our dark chocolate ginger, and the milk chocolate with Devon sea salted caramel is popular. Chocolate enables us to keep our trusty Oompa Loompas busy during the winter when customers are eating less ice-cream – so it makes us more sustainable as a business too!
p (1)

Feedback

Tell us what you think! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again at the Exeter Chocolate Festival and are always keen to hear feedback on our chocolate or hear your requests for new flavours!
Lucy and Dan Bly
Email: dan.bly@salcombedairy.co.uk
p (2)

Interview – James from J.Cocoa

What got you interested in chocolate? IMG_0653-38

I have always loved food, cooking and eating, and I have always been interested in how foods are produced and their origins etc, and who doesn’t also enjoy a bit of chocolate? But it wasn’t until I was at a chocolate demonstration at a food festival that I really got drawn down the rabbit hole. It was a demo on how to flavour chocolate, fill chocolates and whatnot, but at the end of the demo someone asked ‘but how do you make the chocolate?’ to which the exhibitor had to admit that she just buys it all in ready made, so this got me thinking, how many companies actually do make their own chocolate? And to my surprise, very very few do. So in my over casual manner I stupidly thought ‘well how hard could it be?’ and so it began…

When did you first make chocolate?

The curiosity all started in 2015, but depends what you mean by chocolate, as my early attempts certainly didn’t replicate any chocolate I had ever seen before. The appearance, taste and texture should probably be described as ‘rough’. It is safe to say making chocolate proved more difficult and complex than I had ever imagined, but I was now hooked and driven to make something at least edible.

chuno milk miniHow was your first attempt at making chocolate?

As mentioned it wasn’t exactly plain sailing and to be fair I had no idea what I was really doing. There was no one that I knew of who actually made chocolate from bean to bar to ask for help or tips so everything has been done with in depth research online, reading history of food books and a significant amount of good old trial and error, with mostly errors, but they say you learn from your mistakes and that I certainly did. My first attempt was made up of unintentionally burning the cocoa beans to a brittle horrid flavoured mess followed by cracking them with a rolling pin, de-shelling with a hairdryer (what a mess that made) and grinding them up in a blender. If I part any wisdom on future makers, do not do the last part. It took me to blow up two blenders to realise that making chocolate in a blender doesn’t work.

How and from where do you source your ingredients?

I start by working directly with the growers or co-operatives to ethically source the highest quality cocoa beans paying a premium of over 5 times the Fairtrade rate. This means that finally the farmers are getting greater recognition, and a true price for the demanding work and time that goes into growing and cultivating the cocoa, enabling farmers to actually make a living from their cocoa instead of just surviving. They can keep their children in schools and re-invest to grow their businesses instead of being forced into selling their cocoa to large confectionery companies at ridiculously low prices. Only Organic ingredients where possible are added to my chocolate, with only 2-3 ingredients in my dark chocolate bars. I never use emulsifiers, strongly believing that for great chocolate, Less Is More.

Is there anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

I am immensely proud that my chocolate has come a long way in the 4 years since seeing that demonstration and its very humble, chaotic beginnings. What started as curiosity, turned into a hobby and became a full business. My bean to bar chocolates are internationally award winning, collecting an award for every bar created and entered so far. Including winning Gold at the 2018 international chocolate awards.

molding 12

What’s your best-selling product?

My hand painted giant Easter eggs. They are all individually decorated in different colours and slightly different designs so that every one sold is unique to that person enjoying it, packaged in my zero waste own design boxes. However that’s only seasonal, in general the best selling chocolate variety is the new coffee milk chocolate. This is the one that collected gold in 2018 and flies out as soon as I make a batch. It is enjoyed by cafes, restaurants and bar customers alike for its truly natural and subtly blended flavour.

What achievement are you most proud of?

One of my greatest achievements is not only ethically sourcing ingredients but also sustainably producing and packaging my chocolate. At J.Cocoa I make a specific pledge to the environment to protect our planet, after all, this is the only planet with chocolate on it! I have reduced the businesses waste to an absolute minimum. Any packaging from deliveries either gets reused, repurposed or recycled. Nothing gets wasted throughout production, and I have designed most of my machines and equipment which have then been built here in the UK from recycled stainless steel, and everything is either powered manually or by electricity.

Packaging is the biggest issue when it comes to waste, particularly plastics. So I set about designing my own zero waste chocolate packaging that was still functional, hygienic and protected my bean to bar chocolate. It took me the best part of a year, but it eventually all came together. My single origin bars are packaged in fully compostable starch-based wrap, inside a totally glueless recyclable acid free card box, all of which is produced here in the UK minimising fuel usage. My hot chocolate stand up pouches are re-sealable and also fully compostable. My shipping boxes are custom fit to the bars minimising movement and the need for excessive protective packaging. Though in circumstances where this is needed I either use paper, compostable pellets, or simply re-use protective packaging from deliveries I have received. The boxes are then secured with fully recyclable tape.

I am most proud of persevering with making chocolate too. It has brought many highs bars twistand lows and it is no easy product to produce. It is a very complex time-consuming process, and by changing one small aspect within it will yield a completely different end product, which at times has been a nightmare. But I do it because I love it, and I want others to enjoy what I make.

I am proud to use the chocolate as an avenue to implement real change particularly in cocoa growing countries which also happen to be some of the poorest regions on earth and historically taken advantage of.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Looking to the future I want to carry on making chocolate, sounds obvious but it is a tough path to walk. I also want to continue increasing the range of chocolates I make, working with more amazing growers and invest in fully renewable energy sources such as solar panels, rain water storage with purifier and wind generators etc to eventually become totally sustainable and continue to form a business and product that creates a big taste impression whilst leaving no imprint on the planet.

What’s your mission statement?

To produce the most delicious bean to bar chocolate in a fully ethical and sustainable manner, to use the chocolate as an avenue to implement real change economically and environmentally. To enjoy making something that brings joy to others.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

Very difficult, I love so many different chocolates dark, milk, white, filled, bars etc. There’s so many really amazing chocolate makers and chocolatiers. Some of my favourite go-to chocolates are basically anything from Zara’s chocolates, Eponine and Fifth Dimension, the triple chocolate truffle from JK chocolates is incredible! Chocolarder’s Sambriano Dark bar is one of my all time favourites and bars from Dormouse and Solkiki are too brilliant to name just one. And that’s to name just a few!

Tempering the chocolate 2

You will be able to try James’s award-winning chocolate at the Exeter Chocolate Festival! But if you can’t wait until then, you can order direct from the website by clicking here.