Thank you so much for joining Tickets in Newcastle for an interview about your amazing chocolaterie in Newcastle City Centre, La Chocolatrice.
As we’re in lockdown at the moment we are doing this interview via email, but I can’t wait to visit your shop once it’s open again!
Making chocolate sounds like an incredible job. Could you please tell us how you got started as an artisan chocolate maker? Where did your passion come from?
I have always loved chocolate. For as long as I can remember it has been my favourite treat. Whether I was being given chocolate by grandparents, or saving my pocket money to buy two vanilla truffles from Thornton’s each Saturday, it was always part of my childhood.
When I was 18 I moved to Avallon, a small town in the centre of France. While there I worked as an au pair and one of my jobs was to make the afternoon snack. I’ve always liked cooking but this was where my chocolate love story really came into its own. Over the course of the year, the afternoon snack became bigger and more complicated, and I’d often visit the local patisserie for ideas and inspiration. I also spent a lot of time sampling the delicious treats at the local patisserie, which I enjoyed immensely!
I moved to Paris a couple of years later, and took every opportunity to improve my baking and patisserie skills. I attended quite a few courses while I lived there, but the one thing that stood out to me was chocolate! I will never forget the first time I made an Easter egg – it was so much fun! I started experimenting with chocolate and different chocolate recipes, and upon returning to the UK, I began working part time for a chocolatier in Leeds, while studying at University.
You recently opened your own premises on Westgate Road called La Chocolatrice. What made you decide to open your own shop and is there a story behind it?
Until June 2019, I had been working for a few years in the North East, as a French and Spanish teacher. Owning my own chocolate shop has always been my dream, and although I loved my job, I knew that if I didn’t do it now, I never would.
After handing in my notice, I spent the whole summer making plans, but the one thing I couldn’t decide upon was the name. I was on holiday with a friend, and I’d told her the problem that I had. She spent the whole week making suggestions (some of them okay, some of the ridiculous), and it was on the last night, we were in bed and it was dark and she whispered, “What about La Chocolatrice?” and we both loved it. We had lived in France together, and studied together at University, and in French, a lot of professions have a masculine and a feminine title. Chocolatier didn’t so she made one up, La Chocolatrice.
Could you tell us a bit about what you offer at La Chocolatrice?
La Chocolatrice is the only independent chocolate shop in the centre of Newcastle. We stock a range of handmade chocolate bars and other chocolatey treats, and we also teach Chocolate Making Workshops.
During a Chocolate Truffle Making Workshop, you will learn how to make delicious chocolate truffles, chocolate flakes, and chocolate crisps, experimenting with flavours and techniques. Workshops are all very hands-on and you take home everything that you make – lots of delicious chocolates! Each workshop lasts from between 90 minutes to two hours and is the perfect way to celebrate any special occasion, or just have fun!
I am currently working on some new workshops which I will be releasing soon, such as a chocolate bar making workshop and an Easter Egg making workshop next year.
What’s it like running the chocolate making workshops and do you have loads of fun doing them?
I love running workshops. I always say that I have managed to create myself my dream job. I have combined my love of teaching with my love of chocolate, and I get to chat to people while making delicious treats.
No two workshops are ever the same and I meet so many lovely people every day. I feel really lucky to be doing something that I love.
What kind of feedback have you received from the good people of Newcastle about your products?
People seem to be really enjoying both the chocolate and the workshops, which is lovely! In the shop I have my regular customers, some who have been coming since my very first day. It’s lovely because you get to know people. I was worried, leaving teaching, that I wouldn’t like working by myself but I meet new, interesting people every day.
What is your favourite type of chocolate and why?
I always find this question really hard because the honest answer is that I love it all! I think I have a different favourite for every occasion. I love really good quality dark chocolate. One of my favourite things that I’ve done recently was a chocolate tasting, and we tasted lots of different single origin chocolate. There was a variety of chocolate, made from beans grown all around the world. It was amazing to taste the difference between chocolate made from beans grown in Ecuador, and chocolate made from beans grown in Tanzania. They were both delicious, but completely different flavours!
My current favourite bar from my range is the caramel filled milk chocolate bar. I made it as a one off, but I enjoyed eating it so much that it is now a permanent addition to my range. I think enjoying chocolate is about more than just the taste. Obviously you want a fantastic flavour, but it is the whole experience that makes a great chocolate bar. The appearance, the snap, the smell, and more all have to be amazing to make it just right.
What are your plans for yourself and for La Chocolatrice once we are safely out of lockdown?
During lockdown I have been working on developing the range of chocolate I stock at La Chocolatrice. I have also been running Friday Night Chocolate sales. At 7pm every Friday I open my online chocolate shop, and each week I sell a different chocolate treat box. Treat boxes contain three bars of chocolate and a pack of delicious chocolate buttons, and the flavours change each week. This has been going really well. I’m really enjoying this project, but I’m also very new to selling online.
After lockdown, I’d like to continue working on my Online Chocolate Shop, as I find it really exciting sending my chocolate all around the country. Really though, I can’t wait to reopen La Chocolatrice, start running workshops again, and welcome back all of my lovely customers!
You can find out more about La Chocolatrice as well as purchase Zoë’s workshops and chocolate on her website, here;