If we’re being honest, we don’t usually need any special excuses to indulge our sweet tooth. But this time of year calls for some serious confectionery. We recently channelled our inner Charlie (yes, he of the Chocolate Factory fame) and delighted in having a conversation with Chantal Coady OBE, the powerhouse behind the wonderful Rococo Chocolates.
Developing a chocolate company sounds like a dream career to many of us. Why did you decide to become a chocolatier?
I have been enthralled with chocolate all my life, and when I was studying at art school I got my dream job of selling chocolate in Harrods on Saturdays, which opened up a whole new world to me. The thing which I was hoping to find was magic, theatre and fun. This inspired me to open my shop and to make my dream a reality. That was in 1983.
You’re well known for developing unusual flavour combinations. What have been some of your more adventurous recipes?
Over the years there have been so many; one would have to be the sea salt, or the chilli pepper. Now of course, everyone does those flavours. We have made chocolate with caviar salt and played with insects in chocolate, too. We also love the classics.
Is there a special room at HQ where ideas are generated?
I have a special studio space where I do my thinking and design work, although sometimes an idea will start with the chocolatiers and sometimes it will be led by the design. It is a very fluid, organic process. I find that when I am travelling I come up with new concepts – often it might be the place, something from nature, or a delicious dish that I am tasting.
You’re packaging is equally inspiring. Who comes up with these ideas?
I originate almost all the artwork. My training is in art and design, so ideas and colours flow from the flavours: I love working in pen, ink and watercolours. The blue and white antique chocolate mould designs also form a big and distinctive part of the Rococo brand.
Tell us about the flower varieties that have inspired your recipes…
There are the classics; rose and violet, and then more unusual ones like orange blossom, neroli, jasmine, geranium and lavender. I use the flowers that I grow in my Moroccan garden hidden at the back of the Motcomb St store in Belgravia as inspiration.
We adore your collaboration with Roald Dahl. Can you share any fun plans for Rococo in 2019?
There will be more of Bruce Bogtrotter, there will be newts, giant peaches and more. Watch this space – there may also be a few Moomins…
Finally – what is your all-time favourite Rococo chocolate?
My very favourite chocolate would have to be our special edition Grococo 2012 bar. This was made by the Grenada Chocolate Company from organic beans grown on our cocoa farm there. It is subtle and elegant, with notes of raisin and fig. In fact it’s really the chocolate equivalent of a dessert wine.