Everyone has the occasional bad day at the office. The day I visited the fascinating new chocolatiers in town, the Chocolate Box, was not one of them!
I chatted with new owners, Michelle Haskell and Emma Kennett, to find out more about this delicious new addition to foodie Ludlow.
I am greeted upon entering the shop by a gorgeous waft of chocolate scents and Michelle and Emma’s friendly smiles. It does feel a bit like I am entering a giant chocolate box, the decor is all woodsy and warm. These two ladies took on the renovation of the shop themselves proving themselves as adept at wood working as they are chocolate making.
It is also reflected in their chocolates. I have never seen such a realistic looking chocolate tool box with hammers, pliers, nuts and bolts that almost look too good to eat. They also create fantastic whimsical pieces like star fish, shells and their latest design, a white chocolate unicorn. The duo take a few minutes out of their busy day to dish on how and why they started their Chocolate Box.
What is the story behind your store and what brought you together?
E: I worked for Michelle at the Cottage Cafe around the corner.
M: Yeah, I had the cafe for a couple of years, and Emma walked in for a job, and that was it, we were friends, and kept in contact.
So, why did you choose chocolate as your next venture?
M: Well, everyone loves chocolate! I used to make celebration cakes, and I did chocolate work on those cakes. I just grew to really love dealing with chocolate and making it look beautiful.
E: You also had a childhood dream to open a sweet shop!
Your store is a delight for the visual sense and for your taste buds. How did you get it to look so warm and inviting?
M: I really enjoy renovating. I just love woodwork and I think it fits with this old building and its beams and open stonework. We used a lot of recycled building materials, like scaffold planks to make the shelves and counters.
E: Everything in this building we have done ourselves. The two of us did it together. I didn’t have a clue about DIY, so I have learned lots! We had always liked this building. Michelle thought it would make a good chocolate shop, and I thought it looked like a cosy chocolate box, so the name came from the building itself.
What is involved in the process of making chocolate? Is it a labour of love?
M: I taught myself. It takes a while to make, as I’m still learning. I used to make toppers for the cakes but now I’m making bars, and trying to work out which tastes go best together, and which chocolate to use, as there are so many different types all with their own [unique] tastes. I make it in my cabin in my garden, which has a fully fitted kitchen.
How important is sourcing your suppliers to your own ethos when it comes to making chocolate
M: Very important. We buy our cocoa beans from a family business in Uganda. They support the local cocoa farmers to keep on growing the finest beans, so every pack we buy, part of it is reinvested in farmer training and local community projects.
What is your favourite chocolate?
E: Ruby red is definitely my favourite. It uses a naturally red cocoa bean which has a delicious fruity flavour. I’m looking forward to trying the new Daim gelato that has arrived this week which is to die for!
M: We stock Giovanni’s downtown gelato, which is richer and creamier than ice cream. It’s our Saturday treat.
What is your best seller?
E: Definitely Ludlow Caramel Gold, it sells out pretty often. The Chocolate tools sold really well for Father’s Day presents, and the horse shoes are popular presents for exams and weddings too.
Our new sea shells are very pretty. We also stock organic fair-trade chocolate bars, and cater for gluten free, dairy free and vegan.
Who are your customers typically?
E: We have had lots of local customers who have recognised us from our days at the café. When we were renovating the shop, people would stop and ask us what we were doing, and they became interested, and followed our story on Facebook.
We also have tourists passing through who stop by. We had one recently who poked his head in and said he couldn’t come in as he was diabetic. He was so excited to find we also did sugar-free chocolates. We have something for everyone.
If you have a chocolate emergency — you know that urgent need for chocolate, or a special gift, a decadent hot chocolate or a cooling gelato make a stop at the Chocolate Box.
Right LGL, next assignment needs to be fitness related after indulging in lots of naughty chocolate sampling!
Find The Chocolate Box at 5 Attorneys Walk or follow them on Facebook