Chocolatier wins three awards and launches new series of workshops
- Credit: Lisa Clarke
A Clevedon chocolatier has won three Taste of the West gold awards for their handmade chocolates.
Lisa Clarke won gold awards for her caramelised white chocolate, sea salt and house roasted almond slab bar, 500g sexy and gorgeous milk chocolate truffles with flower essences to promote a feeling of confidence and well being, and the sea salted caramel truffles.
When Lisa’s popular chocolate cookery school The Chocolate Tart was forced to instantly close at the beginning of lockdown, chocolatier Lisa started to make chocolates by hand, working alone in her once bustling, busy workshop.
She said: “Being computer illiterate didn’t help when I was trying to work out how to get an online shop up and running in a pandemic It was a massive learning curve.
"Initially it was easy for me to set up a pop up chocolate shop outside my house and asked people to leave cash in a pot of vinegar to sterilise it or make an online bank transfer. I sold flour and yeast at cost alongside, which was to help keep Congresbury baking.
"It was a big village secret as sometimes people from outside the village turned up and loaded all the flour we had into their boots.”
Lisa explained that the flour came direct from Shipton Mill in 16kg sacks and had to be weighed into 500g bags and tied with different coloured ribbons in order that customers would know which flour was which when they got home.
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Mandy Zyczynska from Mandy’s Driving school was also not working so donated her time packing the flour at a safe distance at the gate so that Lisa could get on making her chocolates. So many people offered their help, but of course they could not accept it as they had to put safety first.
Lisa added: “I asked anyone who could afford to, to pay double in order that villagers who had lost their income could take flour for free, no questions asked.
"It worked really well and everyone was so appreciative. When I had excess funds due to so much generosity with the flour sales I used this to make chocolates for the NHS.
"Once the online shop was up and running I would make chocolates all day and spend the evenings and early hours packaging, labelling and keeping on top of the admin and marketing. My husband whose hospitality reliant business was also closed down became my post boy and accounts department.
"Our middle daughter who was doing her final year of her degree online at home helped whenever she could with the laborious task of packaging late into the night. In February of this year we relocated to Clevedon.
"I am now delighted and excited to be offering workshops, birthday parties, hen parties and social get togethers in various venues in and around Clevedon, Bristol and Bath for groups of minimum four. Hands on Chocolate workshops really make a fabulous memory and delicious chocolate gifts to take home.
"The idea to enter the Taste of the West Awards would never have happened without the pandemic. Having an online shop made me eligible to enter.
"I was completely blown away to receive three golds and a commendation for the four products I entered."
Each product has its own story of how it came about, and Lisa will tell you all about them if you are with her in one of her workshops.
Starting on Friday for six Friday mornings, chocolate and chat workshops will be held at St Peters Church Hall, in Alexandra Road.
The workshops are designed to ease people back into a safe and confident social life. Come on your own or come with friends.
Ten per cent of all profit from Friday morning Chocolate and Chat workshops will go to Clevedon Foodbank.
Lisa added: “These awards have been the icing on the cake for the unbelievably challenging times our family businesses have faced in constantly pivoting and working around making our businesses pandemic safe over the past eighteen months.”
The online shop www.thechocolatetart.co.uk/shop continues to grow and orders can be posted nationwide or collected from Clevedon.