From a childhood obsession with food to my very first words when my dad reached across to take my favourite treat from me. I told him suddenly and clearly, ‘that’s my chocolate’.
Years later and thousands of hours of research, learning, asking, sourcing, batch testing, trial and error, perfecting and re-perfecting, investing and re-investing – finally in my 30’s I’ve become an artisan chocolate micro-producer and workshop host that’s bringing the craft of real chocolate to people who care about what they eat, buy and do. Cocoa Crystal is now an unstoppable passion, culminating in a delicious selection of bonbons and bars, all completely handmade, on marble – without machinery or pre-made fillings or chocolate, using carefully sourced ingredients. Every ingredient I choose to work with is selected for flavour, place of origin, sustainability and history. When I work with chocolate I like to touch, look closely and feel the changes happening. Like any craft, it’s about noticing the subtle beauty and nuances of the materials you use and using them to spark the imagination and enhance the experience. I have had to learn to be patient with chocolate, develop each technique slowly and thoroughly and not get carried away with the endless possibilities.
Not everything goes to plan however! Chocolate is a tricky creature and there are lots of opportunities for disaster… as workshop guests discover on their journeys through the fascinating process of hand tempering.
Every workshop I run focuses on using the highest quality ingredients. Each guest is introduced to the true nature of working with raw cacao to make chocolate, without machinery or ‘cheats’. We strip away the modern noise of mass industrial manufacturing and maxing out profits on unsustainable processes, concentrating on allowing the cacao to shine through as the main ingredient.
I believe that chocolate should only do good, after all, thousands of years of cultivation steeped in spirituality, community and medicine for the native cultures of the Americas have brought us to this place, a strange place of modern chocolate making where often everything is not always as it seems… after a worldwide whirlwind of snatch and grab, genocide, slavery, relocation, intensive farming, world markets, stock markets, hurricanes, famine and business to business manufacture of chocolate – this delicate ingredient really is at risk of being stretched to capacity. Modern marketing, consumer demand and industrial manufacturing means that it often loses it’s charm and origins with cheap, palm oil drenched compounds, pre made fillings and high milk and sugar content bars that we now so commonly know as ‘chocolate’.
My ingredients are completely organic and always suitable for vegans. I don’t use gluten, soya or palm oil directly in any of my ingredients. Trust me, avoiding these things make modern chocolate making very difficult but I won’t compromise on flavour or ethics. Even though it makes processes much more complicated and far less profitable, I believe that chocolate should be a luxury, it should be dark, grown slowly and naturally and be used as unprocessed as possible to celebrate this amazingly delicious and nutritious gift from the rainforest.
I use zero single use plastics throughout my events, workshops and micro-manufacture. You won’t see plastic aprons, cellophane packaging or disposable utensils at any workshops, gift boxes or signature bars.
With over 10 years of experience in events, hospitality and crafting chocolate – you won’t be disappointed with our service whether you’re buying a gift, coming along to a public workshop or booking a private party of your own.