At last, the UK's chocolerati have their own establishment: the Academy of Chocolate (AoC).
Launched by a group of diverse individuals with one all-consuming obsession, the AoC aims to raise the profile of fine, high cocoa-content chocolate through tastings, wine-and-chocolate pairing sessions, seminars and demonstrations for both consumers and food industry professionals.
‘For too long, we have been taste-washed on bad chocolate, which is high in vegetable fat rather than cocoa butter, and loaded with refined sugar – which is actually what people get addicted to,’ said chairman and co-founder Sara Jayne-Stanes, author of Chocolate: the Definitive Guide.
AoC founders including Chloe Doutre-Roussel, chocolate buyer for Fortnum & Mason; Michael Edey of Nudge PR; and Chantal Coady of Rococo Chocolates, will also help organise the annual UK Chocolate Festival (formerly Chocolate Week) and launch the first-ever World Chocolate Awards.
‘We’re trying to change the British taste for super-sweet, cheap chocolate,’ said William Curley, chef/owner of the eponymous patisserie in Richmond, London. ‘Once people taste really high quality chocolate, they understand why it’s worth a splurge.’
The AoC’s mandate extends to both taste and ethics: the chocolate the Academy encourages people to try, they contend, is not only more delicious than mass-produced chocolate, but also is made in conditions that are as socially just and environmentally friendly as possible. ‘We want people to know everything about their chocolate, from bean to bar,’ said Jayne-Stanes. ‘We are available for weddings, bar mitzvahs and corporate entertainment.’
Written by Maggie Rosen