"How did you start making chocolate?"

This is a question we get asked a lot. And we can only answer a very short version verbally so here is the full monty...

It all began early in 2017, when a little birdie told us that Rosy Glow was up for sale. Rosy Glow was a very well established chocolate shop in the area. They had been making and selling chocolate for 23 years at their powder pink villa in Collingwood. It was a destination for many that visited Golden Bay on their holidays!

At the time I had been looking for another business for a while and my friend

Kath Craw and Gay Hamilton

Kath was looking for a job so I asked her if she fancied making chocolate. Despite neither of us ever working in catering but, always up for an adventure, she said "Yes!" so we both set about researching chocolate. I talked to my accountants to figure out what would be a good but sensible bid for the business and, after watching many online videos and much to-ing and fro-ing with the accountants and the estate agent, I was just to put in an offer when... we got the call that the owners of Rosy Glow had decided not to sell after all, but to close.

We were devastated! Well, for about 10 minutes. Until one of us said "Darn it!" (or words to that effect) "Let's do it anyway!". And so we did. We checked out potential premises in Takaka (which is where we would've taken Rosy Glow anyway) including a couple of cafes that were for sale, and I sent Kath off to chocolate school in Sydney.

As an aside: for anyone that is interested the TAFE in Ryde do a very good Chocolate course. Its intensive, short and covers a lot of ground. The following month I did a beginners Patisserie course and that was exactly the same. We both stayed with my cousin Elaine and her husband, who lived nearby, and greeted us each night at the door. I can still see their excited faces as I brought out the goodies I had made that day.

Anyway, I digress.... So Kath had a ball in Sydney and arrived back with her head full of chocolate making information and her bags full of the real McCoy. I then flew to Auckland to the Coffee and Chocolate show where a lot of NZ's best chocolatiers were exhibiting and sampled all I could find there. It was tough, but someone had to do it. One of these was Hogarth's Chocolate from Nelson which was an eye-opener for me. I brought back a range of bars and discovered the different flavour profiles within. I had never experienced anything like this in chocolate before. From that day I was on a mission!

We decided that the best way to be objective about our future stock range is to form a Tasting Committee. That way we would get a cross section of tastes, not just Kath's (who never really liked chocolate and would only eat dark chocolate) or mine (who would eat anything that was put in front of me). So we called upon our friends to sample and critique Kath's Australian creations and some from the Auckland Show. Clipboards in hands, they didn't disappoint - some were hits, some were misses and some needed tweaks. So we took some recipes that were "hits" and set about scouring chocolate bibles for other flavours to complement them. Each week the Committee would meet and each week we added new flavours to the list.

Next onto premises - unfortunately the cafes we had looked at didn't work out but we were very lucky to find a commercial kitchen available right in the heart of Takaka. It's previous incarnation had been an organic Indian takeaway, and before that it was the starting premises for none other than Baron Hasselhoff - another quality chocolatier, now based in Wellington. Bit of an omen? I reckon!!!

Tiny in size, it's main benefits were it's central location and the hatch window that opened out into the Library Car Park. This is one of the main parking areas in Takaka, where people park and walk past us to get to the main street and it's also where the town's Market is held each Saturday.

From there it was a mix of leasing the kitchen/shop, tarting it up and sussing out and sourcing the equipment we would need. Remember, neither of us had ever worked in a kitchen, so we based it all on what Kath had seen in Sydney and checking out the backgrounds on a few online chocolate videos. Some bits came from Trade Me, some came from Australia and some came from Italy. But it all came together really well and we opened in December 2017 with about 15 flavours and a whole lot of excitement! 

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