Our September meeting was delivered by Andrew Thwaite on a subject close to many of us Sweethearts: Chocolate.
Andrew had travelled from his workplace on the Ampleforth Abbey estate in the Howardian Hills, to give us an insight into his trade as a master chocolatier.
Presently, Andrew leads a chocolate making enterprise on behalf of the charity, ‘Autism Plus’, where young adults are given work experience, (which can lead on to paid employment), in the profession of making artisan chocolates. The factory and shop is found in it’s present abbey location, due to one of the monks at Ampleforth having previously dabbled in chocolate making. When he left his vocation to pursue a career in medicine, he left all his machinery behind, and consequently a new outlet for social enterprise was discovered.
Previously, Andrew worked at ‘York’s Chocolate Story’ museum demonstrating his skills, and was able to recount stories from former employees, (and fierece competitors), of York’s two original chocolate factory’s: Terry’s and Rowntree’s. Not sure the techniques used in bygone years would have passed today’s strict health and safety measures. Also, the Japanese Kit-Kats in flavours of squid ink, pine needles and aloe vera, also sounded very interesting.!!!
A practical demonstration and explanation of how to achieve a perfect chocolate ensued. The higher the cocoa content, the better the result, and once the chocolate shell has been moulded, a whole host of exotic fillings can be added.Needless to say, Andrew really knows his stuff, if the taste of the final product was anything to go by!