Talking Chocolate With Paul A Young

TOAST talks to groundbreaking chocolatier Paul A Young about his delectable, award-winning work

Chocolate. Food of the Gods. A necessary indulgence all year round, but particularly at Christmas. TOAST caught up with groundbreaking chocolatier Paul A Young to learn more about his love affair with chocolate, his delectable, award-winning work and his all round chocolate wisdom.

Paul A Young has what some might describe as the dream job. He makes incredibly delicious chocolate treats for a living, and when we speak he has just returned from visiting a sugar plantation in Mauritius. Seriously. Oh and did I mention that he also has a miniature Dachshund called Billi?

 “Most days I wake up at 6.00am so I can walk Billi and check any emails and social media that has arrived over night. Everyone has admin, even chocolatiers!” he laughs.

The rest of Paul’s day is split between product development, production, team training and various meetings to explore potential collaborations and partnerships. He also has a chocolate afternoon tea running at The Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane, as well as recently collaborating with Vivek Singh of Cinnamon Club for Chocolate Week (they created a Lime Pickle Caramel which Paul said was ‘awesome’). Then it’s time for training for an Action Against Hunger charity hike that Paul is undertaking in Nepal next year, as well as fulfilling his role as ambassador for the Children’s Air Ambulance. Phew. Yet still, Paul still manages to spend time in one of his three beautiful Paul A Young chocolate shops.

Paul A Young Chocolates

“I like to vary which shop I’m in each day. I try to check in with the team on the shop floor first thing, check the products and sample a few truffles. Not a day goes by when I don’t eat one of our sea-salted caramels – they’ve won Best Sea Salted Caramel in the world at the International Chocolate Awards and I never tire of them! It’s all about checking the quality, of course…”

Now, there are a lot of people in world who love chocolate, and I am most definitely one of them, but when does chocolate go from being a treat, to a profession?

“Growing up, I adored all types of chocolate but especially, Thornton’s Continental, Matchmakers and Cadbury's Roses, so you could say I have a lifelong affinity with the product!” explains Paul.

“Me, my mum and grandma would spend every Sunday at her house baking, so I believe I’ve inherited a sweet tooth from her! But professionally, I really discovered I loved working with chocolate whilst working my way through the ranks of Marco Pierre White’s restaurant – I was amazed by how versatile an ingredient it was and how much fun it was to experiment with.”

After leaving Marco’s kitchen Paul was asked to create two special chocolates by Chantal Coady, founder of Rococo Chocolates, for the very first Chocolate Week using Taylor’s Port. Paul created a Port and Pear truffle and a Port Marzipan – and both sold out.

“After that, I continued to develop chocolates for many different chocolateries and companies. My sea salted caramel was the very first chocolate I developed and I was encouraged to enter it into the prestigious Academy of Chocolate Awards. Winning the Gold Award was the final inspiration I needed to open my own chocolaterie!” 

Paul A Young Chocolatier

Paul’s passion for his craft and his cutting edge creativity have since won him numerous awards and led to him being ranked amongst the world’s best chocolatiers. He has a reputation as a ‘flavour alchemist’, developing flavour combinations that are original, experimental, sometimes daring, yet always perfectly balanced.

“It’s definitely trial and error!” Paul laughs.

“As with many good things, it takes time and practice to get some combinations to work. I have particularly struggled with fish and chocolate in the past, but now I have several recipes that involve anchovies or white fish!

It is always exciting for me to push the boundaries of people’s expectations with chocolate. This year I introduced a Black Garlic Caramel into the collection. A lot of people were skeptical, but it makes perfect sense when you consider our culture’s obsession with salty, umami flavours mixed with sweet. It’s a similar concept to Sea Salted Caramel.

Most importantly, it’s getting to see the joy on our customer’s faces when they try something unexpected but delightful. The whole alchemy of chocolate can be a huge challenge – sometimes it just has a life of its own. Practice makes perfect though and once you feel comfortable working with it as an ingredient, it’s truly magical and you’re only limited by your imagination!”

Don’t be safe or bland; stand out, be daring, be unique, be authentic and those creative ideas will flow, flow to the point where often you can’t launch products quickly enough!”

Speaking of flavours – sea salted caramel has of course been a big trend this year (and Paul’s version is the very best!), so which taste sensations does Paul think is going to take the chocolate world by storm next year?

“We’re seeing savory flavours appear more and more in chocolate and I’m certain it’s a trend that will gain more traction in 2017. In my collection this year alone there’s been truffles and chocolates which include the aforementioned black garlic but also naan bread, basil, lime pickle and goat’s cheese and in my Christmas collection we have an extra special Gingerbread and Blue Cheese chocolate.

I think we could see more experiments with meat and chocolate too – I’ve done chocolates in the past with Black Pudding and I think people are loving umami so much at the moment that someone will make this the next big thing in chocolate. However, I do think Salted Caramel will stick around as a trend a little longer!”

Paul A Young Millionaire Shortbread

(Paul A Young's Millionaire Shortbread)

Paul A Young

(Paul A Young's Chocolate Brownies)

Paul’s Award-winning chocolates, truffles, brownies and more made fresh in store every day; Paul and his team make all their creations completely by hand in the kitchens at each shop, in small batches and at every stage using fresh ingredients. Compounds, concentrates, essences, preservatives and additives are not used.

“Our philosophy across all of my shops remains very simple. The very best ingredients crafted by hand with care and attention. We have very traditional values which means we are hands on involved in every process; we temper all the chocolate by hand, which means our chocolatiers’ natural talent shines through in very bite. Attention to detail can be mimicked by a machine, but a machine cannot introduce love and passion into a product but it can increase output. The choice is personal and I chose to focus on authentically hand made.

"However, the easiest way to get the best product is to care about what you do. I’m lucky enough to have such a highly passionate team. When someone loves what they do, that love and care is transferred into the end product.”

Paul A Young Chocolate

Paul Young Chocolates

If, like Paul, you fancy transferring your love into something chocolatey this winter then make sure you check out his incredible hot chocolate recipe as well as his top tips for achieving hot chocolate heaven over on TheEdit now.

For more information about Paul A Young check out his listing in our Little Black Book or visit his website www.paulayoung.co.uk


Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 09 December 2016

  chocolate master, chocolates, chocolatier

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