Tell me a little bit about your background?
Before I started Good Tempered Chocolate full time I left my job as a firefighter. I had been doing it on the side for about nine years before that. I worked as a chocolatier when I finished university, in a lovely little chocolate shop in Kent called Madame Oiseau. That’s where I learned to temper. I kept it up as a hobby, I’d do it when I had days off or for friends who wanted wedding favours. I’d always do a big batch at Christmas and give chocolate to all of my family. I’d always had the desire to make it into something more, it’s been ticking over for years.
What made you go from chocolate to fire fighting?
The fire brigade was another thing I have always been very interested in. Im originally from the South, and when I moved up North they were recruiting. So I ended up going down that avenue. When I got in it was a bit of a dream come true, as my husband is a firefighter too, but after having children it just didn’t fit so well.
When did it get to the point when you realised chocolate making could be turned into a business?
I went back onto shifts in the fire brigade after my second child, and I was fitting also in around one market a month – and my chocolate stand would sell out every time. Last year I had a really good Easter, and I knew that if I had more time to put into it, the demand would definitely be there. I also had a few shops asking me if they could stock my chocolate, and I had to say no. I thought, I’m going to have to take a leap of faith with it. February 4th marks my first year, so I’m still finding my feet really, but the way it’s going is very exciting.
What is your style when it comes to chocolate?
I want my chocolate to feel informal while tasting just as good as fine chocolate. I want people to feel like they can just break into them – they don’t just have to give them as a gift. I don’t use moulds, I chop them because I prefer the look of it. It has to be done at the right time, when it’s set enough to make a nice clean cut but not so set that they crack. I like the randomness, it has that feel of Belgian chocolate bark but more chunky. There are a lot of classic combinations when it comes to chocolate, and I have quite a few combinations that I’ve developed over time now. Some of them I’ve made, then I’ve thought I’m not so sure. So I’ve refined it to a selection that I’m really happy with now.
What is your favourite flavour combination?
I’ve just created a new coffee-flavoured slab using white chocolate and coffee. I also love my golden chocolate with hazelnuts. It’s a caramelised white chocolate swirled together with milk chocolate and hazelnuts. But when it comes to dark chocolate, I like the candied orange – that’s a classic combination.
Which is your most popular slab?
Probably peanut butter and raspberry, or white chocolate with crunchy mint. I like to give out samples because a lot of people think they don’t like white chocolate, but if they haven’t tasted a really good, creamy Belgian white chocolate then they don’t necessarily know that it can taste quite different.
Does sustainability feature at all within the brand?
I have this dream that nobody would buy their chocolate packaged. I would have it all in big glass jars and people would buy it and just eat it. I met Lauren, the lady behind Something Good, at Tynemouth Market. She started within a couple of weeks of me last year, and we got talking. She emailed me a few months later before opening her shop in Jesmond and asked if I would like to supply her. I was really happy about that, and selling the chocolate un-packaged is a side that’s going really well. I always take a selection to the market, but I think the way people shop there means there are a lot more impulse buys. I do have a few regular customers who bring along their tins to fill with chocolate, and I’ve been looking into plastic-free Easter egg packaging today too. It’s hard with chocolate, you just have to accept that most of the time it is going to be packaged, but I’m hoping to find something compostable.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve just finished designing my website, which I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’ve spent the last two evenings tapping out descriptions for each slab of chocolate. I’ve also just done a special Valentine’s tin with a variation of box chocolates and slabs. I love making the slabs, but I do want to have more products where there’s extra things too – I know how to make filled chocolate, for example. I think it will stay small, it will stay a case of me making everything for a while longer. But in the long term, I’d love somewhere a bit bigger in which to make them.
Who are some of your favourite local foodies?
I love Baristocracy coffee, we did a little pop up there which I was so happy about. I have a coffee machine, so I always make sure I have their beans in the house. I also love Scream For Pizza, and Omni Café, I’ve eaten there so much and their food is really good. I’ve just supplied them with chocolate for a supper club they’re doing too. I moved up here about 12 years ago and I think what partly delayed me in setting up my own business for a while was that there wasn’t much up here, and it wasn’t quite ready for it, but in those last 10 years the amount of lovely small food businesses has really grown.
What is your favourite thing about the North East?
There are two things. Firstly, the people – I love how friendly people are, everyone is so down to earth which I’ve loved since I the day I moved here. And the second is the coastline, I just adore it.
If you haven’t quite had your fill, check out these independent North East artisans
This Low Fell-based craft bakery is famed in the region for its unparalleled pies and brilliant bread. But come Easter their hot cross buns are the big sellers. With variations even suitable for vegans, they’re always worth checking out for brilliant bakes.
Davenport’s Chocolates are lovingly crafted by artisan chocolatier Jane Williams using the traditional Swiss method of enrobing, which results in a beautiful, velvety texture. Around Easter expect exquisite too-good-to-eat eggs that better resemble works of art than chocolate.
The Chocolate Smiths
If you want something other than mounds of milk chocolate Easter eggs this year, look no further. The Chocolate Smiths produce quirkily-flavoured bars – think smoky bacon and chocolate, and an equally-curious combination of cheese and crackers.
Studio 28 Patisserie
For Naomi Longfield, chocolate is all about being creative with colour, shapes and flavours. Her Easter offering will no doubt include brightly coloured, hand-splattered eggs and unique shapes, all crafted and tempered using fine chocolate.
Bev, of the award-winning North Chocolates, specialises in seasonal, small batch, gourmet chocolate bars, with flavours from Lemon & Lemon Sea Salt to Liquorice & Blackcurrant. This Easter it’s their Hot Cross Fun bar we’ve got our eyes on – 70-percent dark chocolate with cinnamon, cardamom, orange and sultanas.
That Cake at Lillian Daph
For a different kind of egg this Easter, head to That Cake, and do so quickly. Their chocolate Scotch eggs – think Reeses eggs, caramel eggs and cream eggs encased in chocolate brownie and rolled in a crumb – are always a sell out.