Looking back to my childhood in the 70s, who ever would have guessed back then that the world of chocolate would become filled with Artisan producers and Master chocolatiers, with Britain being at the forefront of the chocolate revolution. Remember Snickers when it was Marathon, Texan bars and Yo Yos?
Of course they are still around in some form or another but the woman who is responsible for changing and leading the way in the chocolate revolution is Chantal Coady. And her Rococo factory is where I, and many other bloggers spent the day last week, learning how to master the fine art of chocolate.
My previous post talks of the ideas behind Vanessa Kimbell’s “Let’s Make Christmas” Gift swap which you can read HERE.
Earlier this year, Barry Johnson became Master Chocolatier at Rococo and I had the pleasure of being taught (along with lots of other bloggers) how to master the art of chocolate ganache and tempering chocolate. What I learned from the experience was that chocolate making is a painstakingly exact science and takes place in laboratory like conditions.
Barry had the charm and relaxed manner that fooled me into thinking I could replicate his skills myself at home. In fact, he filled me with confidence because of his scientific knowledge. But, don’t be fooled. Chocolate making at this high level requires an expert and I soon realised I may stick to the buying of as opposed to the hand making of chocolates.
Chantal Coady gave us all a copy of her latest book, which she personally signed on the day and I have been reading it in any spare moment I have. The book titled “Rococo-Mastering the art of chocolate” not only has highly original and innovative recipes, it also has the personal touch. Her introduction takes us through the journey of her life so far and it is a fascinating read.
As someone who always goes to the “About Me” section of a blog/website as a first port of call, this fulfilled the personal touch I look for and let’s you into the world of Chantal Coady and reveals just how much of a chocolate trendsetter she really was and still continues to be. The book is one I would recommend to any chocolate lover and as I already have “Real Chocolate”, Chantal’s previous book, I now feel my chocolate library is complete.
The Gift Swap gifts were all being judged while we were all having our masterclass. The judges included Lucas Hollweg, recipe columnist for The Sunday Times, who has also written a book called “Good Things to Eat” and Sophie Conran, cookery writer and designer of beautiful white china for The Portmerion Range of table and kitchenware. We could all bring in no more than two gifts. One could be our own favourite chocolate recipe and one also from Chantal’s latest book.
And the winners were as follows…
THIRD PLACE – Jude (A Trifle Rushed) with her own Peppermint Bark
SECOND PLACE – MEEEEEE! with my baking of Chantal’s White Chocolate, Campari, Cherry & Orange Loaf
FIRST PLACE – Amanda (Elegance on a shoestring) with her own Bay Truffles
There were runners up prizes too, one of which I can remember but sadly not the others as by that stage I had received my prize of a Sophie Conran platter (seen above) and bowl and was chatting away to Jude! I know Selina Periampillai was a runner up with her Chocolate salami and I think preserve queen Vivien Lloyd also was a runner up. Apologies for not mentioning other winners.
Vanessa gave a heartfelt speech and she had created for us all a day to remember and enjoy. She is a natural, warm and engaging person who is full of fun as well as being a talented cook, photographer and food writer. I loved her thoughts on Christmas and just how crazily materialistic we have all become. She, like so many of us, thinks we should all take a step back and look at how we can find ways of cutting back on our buying. Maybe think more before buying and give presents which we can make ourselves, in some cases at least.
As there were several bloggers that weren’t able to make it to the event Vanessa has come up with the idea of a virtual gift swap. If you want to enter, just visit her blog HERE and you can find out more about “Let’s Make Christmas”, the virtual version.
Thank you to Vanessa, Chantal, Barry, Lucas, Sophie and last minute judge Richard for making Let’s Make Christmas 2012 a day to remember.