It was with a heavy heart and, more noticeably, heavy eyelids that The Chocolution foursome packed down the Kew Gardens chocolate factory and headed back into the real world a few weeks ago. As we toiled zombie-like on the final Sunday night to dismantle all the equipment, clean it and pack it into the truck, fuelled only by large doses of chocolate and hitherto undiscovered depths of willpower, one could be mistaken for thinking that the real world we were about to rejoin was more appealing than the world of chocolate we had come to know.
And while the idea of a day off (or, in most of our cases, a few weeks off overseas) was deliciously attractive at the time, we can't help but look back at the three crazy weeks we spent at Kew Gardens through a nostalgic lens, kind of like the Polaroid filter on Instagram.
We miss the rapturous excitement with which kids watched liquid chocolate being churned in the grinders and tempered on the granite slab. We miss the engaging, often quite brilliant questions, comments and insights from adults who wanted to learn as much as possible about the history and production of chocolate. We especially miss that almost pitying laughter at some of the terrible jokes we made, jokes that would in any other circumstance be met with a groan but were, for some reason, funny in this alternate universe.
We miss all of this not only because it was fun and different, but because we know it was worthwhile. It's important that people, especially kids, are properly educated about the food they eat: where it comes from, what's in it and who makes it. What we choose to eat affects not only our own health, but the lives of the people who produce the food and, even more broadly, the global environment. We believe that chocolate can be a great introduction to this, and that the lessons learnt at Kew can be applied much more broadly, not just to chocolate but to everything we eat.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our Baa-to-bean workshop at Kew over Easter. We estimate that more than 3000 people visited over the 16 days to learn about cacao, taste some artisan chocolate and give us some sympathy laughs. The feedback we received was almost unanimously positive and we hope you enjoyed the show as much as we enjoyed putting it on. We have every intention of returning to Kew with a slightly different show in 2016 - same time, same place. We'll see you there!
Kew competition winner
Remember those little competition slips the children drew pretty pictures on, and some of the adults even filled in? The good news is that we have a winner! Congratulations to Olivia Monro of Suffolk. She'll be enjoying three months worth of delicious chocolate courtesy of The Chocolution. Yum!
What's on this summer
The next big project for The Chocolution is getting a retail product on the shelf. Any of you who've run a business will know how complicated and time-consuming this process can be, but we're nearly there. Hopefully in a few weeks our first variety of chocolate - 70% Ecuadorian raw - will be available in some shops in East Kent, with a range of different cacao and different percentage bean-to-bar chocolates to come down the track.
Ruairidh Wilkinson - The Chocolution's intrepid jungle explorer and fondue of all chocolate knowledge - is writing an illustrated book, The Adventures of Theobroma Cacao. It's coming along nicely and has recently attracted some interest from publishers. We'll be looking to crowdfund the book's publication when the time is right, which will hopefully allow us to publish the book in time for Christmas - more information to come on this one.
Aside from these projects we will, of course, be making plenty of chocolate and putting on workshops at festivals and schools. We'll keep you Chocolutionaries in the loop with times and dates of public events. If you're interested in putting on one of our workshops at a school, a festival or at a private event, please contact us via email or over the phone and we'll be happy to arrange a bespoke event.
That's all for us from the moment. Stay safe, soak up the spring sunshine and, above all, keep enjoying your chocolate!
Viva la Chocolution!