Paul A Young: London’s innovative chocolate magician

You’d be hard pressed to find someone on the street who doesn’t love chocolate, or at least indulge in it from time to time. It conjures comforting childhood memories, is gifted in gratitude, and is the focus of lots of holiday rituals and special occasions – it’s even becoming lauded for its health and medicinal properties.

Khoollect spoke to one man who lives and breaths chocolate – is literally obsessed with the stuff. Paul Young, the namesake behind London’s award-winning Paul A Young Fine Chocolates, shares his views on the culinary world’s magic ingredient.

A Day in the Life of Paul A Young

You’re an experienced chef, but what first sparked your interest in chocolate?

I’ve always loved chocolate, but after I started working as head pastry chef at Soho’s Quo Vadis I quickly realised that I found it really intriguing; it can be used in extraordinary ways and its versatility means it’s perfect for creating all sorts of shapes and sculptures.

After I left the restaurant world and began working as a product developer for well-known supermarket brand Chantal Coady, the founder of Rococo Chocolates, asked me to create a chocolate for the very first Chocolate Week in 2005. This was a remarkable opportunity for me and it led me to produce my famous sea salted caramels, which I then entered into the prestigious Academy of Chocolate Awards and won gold for. A year later, myself and my business partner James Cronin opened our first shop on Camden Passage in Islington.

What advice do you wish someone had given you when you embarked on your chocolatier training?

Working in the food industry is hard work – the hours are long and the competition is fierce, so your attitude is everything. Continue to be dedicated because when you see people admiring and enjoying your chocolate, you’ll realise that all your effort was worth it.

Paul A Young Salted Caramel Chocolates in the Making

I consider apprenticeships to be a great way to begin a career as a chocolatier. There’s a lot of promising talent in the industry and acquiring the key skills in a hands-on environment is invaluable.

What’s your most popular chocolate?

I’m always experimenting to create unique flavours, and I love incorporating seasonal ingredients where I can. This means our selection and best sellers tend to vary, however, my multi-award winning sea salted caramels have remained one of the most popular. I think it’s the combination of sweet and salty that really inspires people’s taste buds. I always eat at least one every morning to make sure they’re perfect.

There must also be more marmite lovers than haters, because our marmite truffle is another favourite with our customers. I created them as a dare from a Sunday Times journalist in 2007 and they’ve continued to be one of our best sellers ever since, alongside our real champagne truffles. These are a classic, made simply with chocolate and champagne – a match made in heaven.

Best Kept Secrets

Do you have a favourite chocolate producer or supplier?

I love San Francisco’s Dick Taylor Chocolate. They use a variety of beans from all over the world including Madagascar, the Dominican Republic and Belize. In the UK, Duffy Sheardown is one of my favourite producers and we use his products a lot to create our own chocolates.

In your opinion, is there any truth to the myth that chocolate is good for the health?

Cocoa on its own has been found to be a good source of iron and magnesium amongst other minerals. But there’s a significant difference between fine chocolate and cheap confectionery. Lower quality bars are full of sugar and fat that has been added in order to improve its taste – ingredients that we are encouraged to avoid for a healthy lifestyle.

However, chocolatiers using higher quality beans do not need to add these calorie-dense ingredients and I strongly believe that moderation is key – everyone should be able to enjoy their favourite treat from time to time without feeling guilty.

What chocolate trends do you predict?

With the current cocoa shortage, the price of chocolate will continue to rise. However, we will slowly begin to see an increase in the quality. At our shops, we already buy some of the beans straight from the grower, which ensures the grower receives the right price for their beans, allowing them to look after and grow their plantations.

In addition to this, as cocoa becomes more valuable, chocolatiers are beginning to look for more imaginative ways to use it and to make it go further. As a result, we will start to see more chocolate bars with added elements and textures, such as seeds and nuts so more ingredients and more inclusions added to chocolate, while chocolate products on the whole will become more decorative.

Check out Paul’s tips to dispel your fears of  working with artisan chocolate, or his delicious recipe for a brunch sandwich with a twist. You can also read about Khoollect’s visit to his amazing London chocolate emporium.

 

For more chocolate recipes head over to www.rachelkhoo.com.

Paul A Young Fine Chocolates has several outlets around London.

Find them on InstagramFacebook and Twitter

Portrait photo by: CliQQ Photography

Tell us about some of your favourite chocolate in the comments below…

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Bex Shannon

Hailing from far away New Zealand, Bex is into music, travel and everything vintage and retro. She h...

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