Interview – Lisa from the Chocolate Tart

What got you interested in chocolate?

I had an event catering company. I was a recommended caterer in The Lord Chancellors Residence in The House of Lords, cooking events for the government, senior judiciary and charities.  I was honoured to be invited a number of times to cook for the Queen. On the first occasion Eton Mess was requested for her pudding. I made cylindrical, wafer thin chocolate cups to serve it in. So many of my chefs didn’t know how to temper chocolate which gives the fabulous shine and snappy structure to the chocolate  – and I wasn’t too good at it either!! So I started to research. I got quite obsessed and then the idea of sharing my knowledge with a chocolate school was born! Initially I imagined only teaching other chefs. But right from the beginning I had students who just loved chocolate or wanted an experience and a lovely memory!
lisa

How long have you been running chocolate workshops?

I started The Chocolate Tart in 2007.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is meeting so many lovely people. Everyone coming into the workshop is celebrating something, having a treat or just simply “me time”. I get quiet groups, noisy groups, groups of total strangers who all have the love of chocolate or creativity in common! I love the mix and have made many good friends through my work.

You are running the Knackali making workshops? What are Knackali, and what skills will we learn?

Knackali are chocolate discs set on edible cocoa butter screen printed transfer paper. The pattern is embossed on the underside of the chocolate as it sets. The discs are decorated with a selection of toppings. We have everything from mini candies, crystallised flowers, fruit and nut. You will learn how to make these gorgeous little mouthfuls so that they look professional and are packaged for you to take home and show off to friends and family.
Lisa is running her popular Knackali making workshops throughout the festival this weekend. If you would like to book a space, click here to visit the booking page!

Interview – Ali from Truly Scrumptious

What got you interested in chocolate?

I have always been fascinated by the art of chocolate making so after trying a few truffle recipes, I decided I wanted to know more and enrolled on my very first course.  YouTube and recipe books only taught me so much and there were questions I had that online tutorials couldn’t answer.

When did you first make chocolate?

About 3 years ago when I was just playing around with some recipes.

IMG_5923

How was your first attempt at making chocolate?

Not brilliant, hence the reason for enrolling on a course!

How and from where do you source your ingredients?

My ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. For example, I use a terrific vanilla paste that it manufactured locally from the ‘Little Pod Vanilla Company’.  My chocolate is sourced from suppliers who, in turn, source an array of ethically produced couverture chocolate. They are mindful of the carbon footprint and all of the chocolate is fair trade!

Anything you are particularly proud of about your products?

I won the Runner Up prize for best new business at the Exmouth Chamber of Commerce business awards. The parties I run are unique and equally fabulous in their own right with many reviews from parents. The chocolate I use is very delicious and I only like to use natural ingredients.

IMG_5050

What’s your best-selling product?

My parties are by far my best selling product!

What are your ambitions for the future?

To increase my party areas and recruit party chocolatiers to run the parties in other areas. To be the No 1 chocolate party supplier throughout the south west.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

Milk chocolate all the way, followed by dark.

If you would like to talk to Ali about booking a children’s chocolate party, she will be at the Exeter Chocolate Festival running the chocolate lollipop decoration station!

Interview – Annie from the Chocolate Pizza Company

What got you interested in chocolate pizzas?

I love the fact that chocolate pizzas are what I call ‘a happy product’, they always make people smile. After being given the opportunity to take over The Chocolate Pizza Company from the previous owner, a good friend of mine, I jumped at the chance of a new challenge and the thought of playing with chocolate all day was an exciting prospect. So I made the change from teaching to running my own business in order to create a better work/life balance.

When did you first make chocolate & how was your first attempt?

The transition in the early days was a steep learning curve, and with the guidance of my friend I made my first chocolate pizza in April 2014. The art of tempering is not an easy one to grasp quickly but with a great tutor and lots of practice, I was improving. The family enjoyed lots of rejects in the early stages. Since then I have developed my skills and have three different sized tempering machines which help me to produce the large amounts needed, all in my specially built chocolate workshop.

Big Breakfast Chocolate Pizza (2)

What achievement are you most proud of?

Once I had grasped making chocolate pizzas, I decided to become more adventurous and started experimenting with flavoured bars and shards which I sold at events. It was at one of these events that I was approached to retail my bars and shards at a local garden centre. I am proud to say that three years on, that retailer still stocks my chocolate and I have acquired several more outlets since.

I entered my Dark Chocolate Raspberry Shards for the Taste of the West awards this year and was very pleased to receive a Silver award. Apart from that I get a great deal of pleasure form the compliments I receive from customers when they have received a chocolate pizza in the post, and also listening to positive comments when they taste my flavours at events etc.

What’s your best-selling product?

When it comes to the chocolate pizzas, my ‘Totally Stuffed’ is the most popular but I have recently launched a ‘Big Breakfast’ Chocolate Pizza which is hot on its tails.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I hope that my business continues to thrive and that I can gain more retail outlets over time, whilst still enjoying making chocolate and get excited about our new creations and flavours.

All in one hamper 19

What’s your mission statement?

The Chocolate Pizza Company is about providing something a little bit different whether it be an unusual gift in the form of a chocolate pizza, or a delicious unusual chocolate flavour combination. I am proud to place ‘Made in Devon’ on my products and being a sole business venture love the fact that I am the contact throughout the process, therefore providing a great personal service.

My personal statement however would be ‘Do what makes you happy and live life for today’. I feel this reflects in my business too.

What’s your favourite type of chocolate?

Oh so much to choose from! I am a sucker for my Salted Caramel Honeycomb, Cornish 71% Sea Salt Shards and White Chocolate Raspberry Bars, so it is clear that I like all types of chocolate. I do find that I eat more dark chocolate nowadays though. However, my guilty pleasure when stopping at the petrol station is to grab a Chunky Kit Kat!

You will be able to get your hands on Annie’s Chocolate Pizzas and other products at the Exeter Chocolate Festival, but if you can’t wait until then you can buy online by clicking here!

Interview – Lisa from Freda’s Peanut Butter

When did you first make peanut butter?

We first started making peanut butter around 3.5 years ago after we were inspired on a trip to New Zealand in a camper van called Freda.

How was your first attempt?

The first attempts were not great! I blew up the first two food processors that I had, but then we invested in some better kit and we got much better results.

freda's2

Tell us about your ingredients?

Our peanuts are high oleic from Argentina. We’ve learned a lot about peanuts, and in our opinion these are simply the best. Everything we add is organic with the exception of Chipotle chillies and Cornish Sea Salt.

Is there anything you are particularly proud of?

Since we started using these peanuts we’ve received some fabulous awards. Three Golds, two Silvers and a Commended from Taste of the West and a wonderful two Gold stars for our Coconut flavour from the Great Taste awards.

What is your best selling product?

Our best seller has always been the Cornish Sea Salt flavour – it’s the simplest of them all – just peanuts and sea salt, nothing else. Incidentally, our Chocolate flavour peanut butter has been having a little rest but we will be launching our Chocolate Orange flavour just in time for the Exeter Chocolate Festival!

IMG_20191017_203228

You will be able to buy Freda’s peanut butter, handmade in Cornwall, at the Exeter Chocolate Festival. See you there!

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.
IMG_20190826_104015_resized_20191004_062109535

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.

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.