“Mmmm, this would taste good with a dusting of cocoa powder,” says Chantal Coady, as she bites into an aubergine melanzane and reaches into her handbag. I watch, anxious that she will suggest I do the same. But no, she pulls out her phone instead.
Not that I needed to worry. When the suggestion comes from a woman who was awarded an OBE for “services to chocolate”, it’s a safe bet she can balance flavours. I’d already eaten a Devon-grown chilli chocolate square and tasted some chocolate caviar – all before 11am, the start time of a private truffle-making class at the Rococo Chocolates shop in London’s Belgravia by Chantal herself, who founded the brand in 1983.
“I’m not a chocolatier, I’m a designer,” she insists, as I split the mixture and she shows me how to “rescue” it, explaining that making truffles is much like making mayonnaise. A textile design graduate from Camberwell School of Arts, Chantal illustrates the brand’s magical packaging and develops delicate flavour concepts. “I remember walking along a beach in Cornwall in the 80s, the sea salt in the air sticking to the ice cream on my lips,” she recalls as the trigger for Rococo’s most popular bar today: Sea Salt Milk Chocolate.
There is a sort of poetry to Chantal’s approach, evident in the creation of three new – and exclusive – flavours for Jigsaw this Christmas: Zest, Spice & Cinnamon Eve; Cardamom & Crackle; and Boxing Day Beets. Each flavour – through its textures and colour combinations – evokes different pieces in our fashion collection. Layered in orange. Dressed in white. Coated in black. Beautiful and delicious.
There’s more. Pyjamas in Rococo’s iconic blue and white print. A phone charger in the guise of a chocolate bar. Make-up bags, chocolate coin purses, chocolate gift sets. The pyjamas are Chantal’s favourite.
You’d think Chantal’s formative years – Camberwell and Harrods’ chocolate counter (“My first customer was Michael Caine,” she remembers, “who always bought his mum the biggest box of Milk Tray”) – would have shaped the world she has created at Rococo. But it was, in fact, their lack of magic that led Chantal to create the very opposite. Her tutors at Camberwell didn’t respond well to her use of photography (they wanted hand-drawn illustrations). Her former boss at Harrods refused to give a customer a branded bag because he’d only bought a Mars bar – the cheapest product in the shop. “I was puzzled by the attitude,” Chantal says now. “Why not engage with the fun and magic of chocolate?”
This is partly why her chocolate bars start at £1.60. But the quality is always top end. In 2002, seduced by a solar-powered, tree-to-bar ethos on the spice island of Grenada, Rococo began a collaboration with the Grenada Chocolate Company. Through Grococo – Rococo’s cocoa farm – the brand makes a direct investment in the local farmers and the future of sustainable, organic cocoa.
So would she ever eat a Mars bar? “No,” she replies. “But I will have a Kit Kat occasionally with a cup of tea. I think it’s good to have very good chocolate but much less of it. It’s like wine. I’m actually trying to eat more of it! You’re supposed to have 50g of dark chocolate every day.”
Now, there’s a New Year’s resolution most of us can keep.
By Ana Santi
Shop our Rococo collection here.
For your chance to win an all-inclusive, 7-night stay at Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada with a private tour of Rococo’s cocoa farm, a factory tour of the Grenada Chocolate Company and a personal styling appointment with £1000 to spend at Jigsaw.