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chocolate (b)log

18th birthday – A Career in Chocolate

By: Jane Williams in our story

I recently celebrated my 18th Birthday. As a chocolatier, that is! Having started working at Burgers Artisan Bakery in 2000, fresh out of university, I was keen to learn everything I could from Master Chocolatier Philippe Burger, and to scour the world and the internet for new skills, ingredients and chocolate experiences. It seems quite a lifetime away, yet a vivid part of my chocolate timeline. Today, I am still making some of the same recipes, and using many of the foundational skills I learned all those years ago – what a great grounding! I am thankful for Philippe’s tutelage, letting me try and experiment, letting me learn from mistakes with no fear. The antithesis of Gordon Ramsey style character, Philippe was a kind and encouraging teacher, and I will always endeavour to emulate that.

However, life looks very different today. Having set up Davenport’s Chocolates in 2007 with my husband Michael, we have been on quite a journey. We’ve learned a lot about business, and a lot about ourselves along the way. We’ve dealt with large and small clients, taken on many different projects, had ups and downs – and as my 18th ‘chocolate’ birthday is giving me cause for reflection, I thought I’d share some of my¬†favourite moments:

  1. Enrobing chocolates. I still love everything hands-on about chocolates making, and enrobing is one of the most therapeutic and satisfying parts of my job.
  2. I love creating new chocolates. I enjoy the challenge of working to a brief (such as product development work for Ocean Spray to creating healthy yet luxury chocolate products with Cranberries), or being able to create a whole new range of chocolates for Booths Foodhalls. I loved creating our ‘Great Chocolates of the North‘ range this summer, especially the Brown Ale Truffle! and I have loved recent collaborative work with Pan Asia Deli to create a range of bespoke Asian flavours.
  3. Working with a design Guru. I love that I married a man who is an artist and designer, and can make everything look amazing.
  4. Staff – the people we journey with along the way are a large part of our lives, and I really appreciate everyone who has worked for us!
  5. Meeting people – so many interesting contacts, conversations that inspire and encourage, insights into overlapping experiences. You don’t have very many colleagues when you start out on your own, but you meet people on similar journeys!

My challenge to myself from this point onwards is to rekindle some of my curiosity and desire to learn new things about chocolate. As a mother of 2 children under 5, I have been somewhat bleary eyed from lack of sleep in recent years. Sometimes it takes all energies to maintain the status quo, but I hope to be emerging from that cloud. I want to discover more and practise until perfect. I want to move forward wisely and creatively. I would very much like to still be making chocolates in 18 years time!




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