The Chocolate Adventurer
I spent an evening in a crowded venue at Somerset House, fulfilling my honoured role as a mentor for the School For Creative Startups an inspiring and hands on course to help creative peolpe turn their brilliance into commercial capital. Fizzing with creative energy the halls, layered across mezzanines, floors, and halls were cheek to jowl with fashion, interiors, digital, food, design, publishing and matchmaking businesses at seedling stage. In every direction creative enthusiasm sucked guests into their vortex of persuasive banter the subtle subtext being 'buy me', 'back me', 'promote me', 'help me', 'invest in me' in short temptation at each turn. But I'm a sucker for great smelling and great tasting product and it was the scent of spiced chocolate which snagged my cheek and reeled me in good and proper, I discovered perhaps the most original and evocative tasting chocolate I've ever encountered Cocoa Hernando. Slabs of the finest milk and dark chocolate infused with Masala Chai, Moroccan Mint, Himalayan Pink Diamond Salt and Mexican Chipotle Chilli..wrapped in iconically designed with an Art Deco influence. So park the Cadburys, ditch the Quality Street and get your hands on gourmet chocolate from Cocoa Hernando you're entering a point of now return. I caught up with Cocoa Hernando to get the skinny on the story to date.
UR: There’s been a surge in Artisan chocolatiers recently, why the trend?
CH: I think the surge simply follows the trend of a growing demand for more interesting & premium foods. For me personally, I wanted to do something exciting & new with one of my most favourite foods, chocolate.
UR: What sparked your interest?
CH: The idea for Cocoa Hernando actually came on train in India several years ago. We were on the Netravati Express on a long journey through Kerala, where I was spending much of my time gazing at the beguiling landscapes from the often-open doors & chatting warmly to fellow passengers, when I was handed my first ever cup of masala chai. The flavour sensation blew my mind & soon made me wonder how this incredible spice mix would blend with delicious chocolate. After some exciting experimentation, I became fascinated with the idea of connecting chocolate with interesting flavours & places.
I'm also obsessed with design & adore the graphic styles which epitomised the early part of the 20th century & the golden age of travel. Cocoa Hernando has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to don my fedora to la Belle Epoque!
UR: What’s the story behind Cocoa Hernando...is that you?
CH: The theme of discovery runs strongly throughout the business & the name Hernando is derived from Hernando Cortez, who was a famous Spanish explorer & the first man to bring chocolate to Europe.
However, whilst developing the packaging, I also began to develop a character called Cocoa Hernando - a refined English gentleman who is fascinated with discovering new flavours, places, cultures, peoples.........I suppose he's a kind of alter-ego (without the refined part!)
UR: And what’s with the dog?
CH: I figured Cocoa Hernando needed a sturdy companion for his travels. The aesthetic of Cocoa Hernando was also inspired by legendary discoverer & archeologist Roy Chapman Andrews, so an animal friend felt right.
UR: The flavours are pretty unusual, where does the inspiration come from?
CH: Again, this inspiration comes from Cocoa Hernando's theme of discovery & our desire to explore amazing new flavours!
UR: Everyone talks about how bad chocolate is for you, but there’s got to be an upside right?
CH: Of course, darker chocolate is well known for having cardiovascular benefits. However, great chocolate always gives me a wonderful sensual buzz, which has be good for your general well-being!
UR: Can I use your chocolate to cook with or would that be sacrilege?
CH: Absolutely not. Not only am I currently discovering the blending possibilities myself, but I'm also hoping to see the results of collaborations with some talented chefs very soon!
UR: OK everyone has a guilty pleasure when it comes to chocolate, is yours a kinder egg or something like that?
CH: Of course! I never really got the Kinder Egg, probably because flavour was always secondary to that teeny tiny toy. However, Creme Eggs are a different matter & I still love the experience of breaking through that milk chocolate into the gooey sweet interior. Wonderful!
UR: Where can I get my hands on a bar or ten of Cocoa Hernando’s finest?
CH: Our bars are currently on sale on our website, whilst I'm also just about to embark on an epic adventure across London and hope to be in plenty of fine shops & department stores by Autumn. I'm also popping-up around London as much as I can with my pile of suitcases, so please follow us on all the usual digital outlets to see where we'll be next.
UR: What’s next in the list in the Cocoa Hernando chocolate lab...Pomegranate Molasses?
CH: Quite possibly! I'm currently investigating the possibilities for the follow-up to our Herbs & Spice Collection and a Fruit Collection is high on the list!
Get Your Fix Here: Cocoa Hernando