Chocolate is special and it makes the world a better place, don’t you think? Had a tough day? Grab a bar of the sweet stuff. Celebrating? Crack open a fresh new bar. (Callebaut Belgian 823’s my favourite if you’re asking). So, imagine my excitement when I heard that Chocolate Alchemy had set up home in The Post House in Derby. I needn’t rely on Amazon to fulfil my chocolatey needs, I can just easily pop into town and grab some truffley goodness.
I was lucky to catch up with the owners of Chocolate Alchemy; Isaac Leafe, Lizi Wheater and Richard Wheater. Read on to find out more about them, who along with team members Jo, Amy, Steph, Sammi, Alex, make up a mighty cool bunch. (I wish they’d be my BFF.)
What is your background Isaac?
Before training as a chocolatier, I trained as an Actor at Lipa in Liverpool. I worked professionally for two years before training as a chocolatier between acting jobs. My love of all things sweet has kept me very busy ever since!
Chocolate Alchemy is a unique name. Who thought of that?
The business has been called Chocolate Alchemy ever since it started in 2009. Although the business has gone through so much change over the last seven years, the name has always stayed relevant to us. The word ‘alchemy’ celebrates our love of fusing ingredients to create something new and exciting.
How did your residence at The Post House come to be?
We approached The Post House because we were so excited about the new concept that it was a no brainer to join them. The Post House was such a unique idea to the Midlands that we really could bring something new and exciting to the artisan food industry.
What do you think Chocolate Alchemy brings to Derby?
There is no other artisan chocolatier in Derby so we are really excited to talk to the people of Derby about our handmade chocolates and cakes. We also love great coffee, and again there is very little in terms of speciality of coffee in Derby so we are really pleased to be serving some amazing coffee roasted by 200 Degrees of Nottingham.
What are the bestsellers from your range? The slabs in your luxury chocolate hamper sound amazing.
The slabs are a great seller and with 500g of solid chocolate they’re great value! We sell a lot of salted caramel, but our best seller (and my personal favourite) has to be our Burleigh’s gin truffles.
Do you create bespoke chocolate or work to commission specific flavours if required?
We love it when people request bespoke flavours, it really keeps us on my toes and we love making new flavour combinations. The chocolates we offer change on a weekly basis, but I encourage people to talk to all our staff about flavours and place orders.
What would you say to aspiring chocolatiers wanting to get into chocolate-making? Are there any courses that you could recommend?
I would say to any aspiring chocolatiers, to get experimenting. Make mistakes. And try loads of new things. Once you master the core skills (you will make lots of mistakes first!) it really is all about putting your personality and creativity into the chocolate. I’m always happy to talk to any budding chocolatiers so please do get in touch! We also run our own chocolate making experiences in Loughborough which are ideal for everyone from beginners to more experienced bakers.
What do you feel when you make chocolate (happy, relaxed, sad)?
I find making truffles therapeutic, and I find experimenting with new flavours and designs exciting. The days when I have thousands of chocolates to make are less relaxing!
Chocolate is inspirational and coveted the world over. From chocolate afternoon teas (inspired by Charlie & the Chocolate Factory) in luxury hotels, to featuring in wedding favours, chocolates seem to be everywhere. What is the most inventive chocolate you have made?
I am always trying new flavours and always look to push people from their comfort zone. Some of our most successful flavours have been lemon and thyme, salt and pepper, Earl Grey tea and juniper berry.
We Brits love chocolate around the calendar. Are there any peak periods? We bet Easter and Halloween are busy.
As you can imagine Christmas is our busiest time of the year, although Easter is arguably tougher to keep up with demand. Our sales at Easter are concentrated over just a week, and Easter eggs are hard to store!
For more information about Chocolate Alchemy, hop on over to their Facebook page for more information. They’re doing afternoon tea too. What are you waiting for? See you there.