Me and my world
Hi. I’m Yael Rose and as you’ll have guessed, I LOVE chocolate. Any type, any form. I would describe myself as a passionate enthusiast, who has discovered a whole new world. I am certainly not a chocolate snob, but I’ve realized that your palate does gradually change.
The more good chocolate you taste, the less likely you are to enjoy the cheap, mass-produced chocolate on offer. That said, I remain completely addicted to chocolate! Perhaps it all goes back to the cup of hot chocolate my mum would make me every day…
How did The Chocolate Festival start?
I’ve been organizing events for 11 years – starting with my wedding! The big turning point came after my neighbour gave birth to her baby prematurely, at 25 weeks. I decided to organize a fundraiser for the baby charity Tommy’s and caught the ‘event bug’. I continued running events in the community.
Then one day I saw a Channel 4 programme about a charismatic chocolatier who bought a cocoa plantation in Venezuela, imported the beans and started making his own chocolate. It was truly inspiring. That’s when I realized I must organize The Chocolate Festival! I love meeting Britain’s brilliant chocolate-makers and seeing people’s eyes light up when I tell them what I do.
Spirit of Enterprise
I’ve always had a determined, entrepreneurial spirit, I think it runs in my blood. My grandmother ran a very successful clothes shop. She was remarkably gifted, they say she could cut and sew a dress from a length of fabric just by laying it on the client – no measurements needed. She worked really hard and was a tough lady. I run the festivals alongside looking after my four boys and beautiful new baby girl, so I guess I have inherited something of my grandma’s determination!
My love of baking
I was brought up in a kibbutz in Israel. At the age of 12 we were expected to start working one day a week. I always loved helping my mum with the baking and a few years later I worked full time in the kitchen, helping prepare food for 300 people. I spent six months in the prep room and a year in the kitchen itself. To this day, I still enjoy cooking and baking. I find it therapeutic, especially when I can cook at my leisure. I love discovering new flavours and quality ingredients.
My love of chocolate
People often ask me which chocolates are best. I strongly believe that the best chocolates are the ones you love best. Personally I prefer to spend a bit more on higher quality, artisan chocolates. I find a little piece satisfies me more than a whole bar of the ‘cheap stuff’.
For me, learning about chocolate has been a journey. As I go on discovering new chocolate tastes, I’ve definitely become more choosy. It’s something that’s happened quite naturally. Someone sent me a really fancy box of chocolates from France recently. They looked lovely, but tasted horrible. I might not have noticed once, but now I have the confidence to know what I like, and why I like it.
Shopping as it should be
What I love about the Festivals are that they offer a great alternative to faceless supermarket shopping. Increasingly, people want to know where and how their food is produced and who made it. At the Festivals you can talk to the producers themselves, or to traders who source direct from the producers, to help you better understand what’s on offer.
Putting Britain on the Chocolate Map
I’m delighted that more and more of the UK’s top master chocolatiers are getting involved. They like the accessibility and openness of the Festivals – at the same time they tell me they’re getting lots of good leads and new customers.
I love providing a platform for small artisan producers who’ve faced such a struggle. One chocolatier told me that he Googled the event and found references in so many different languages that it seemed the whole world was looking to the UK nowadays. It seems London is fast becoming one the chocolate capitals of the world.
A bright chocolatey future
It’s amazing how much development there has been since the first Festival a couple of years ago; lots of new chocolate companies are being created. Whatever problems the recession brings, I don’t see people stopping eating chocolate. I hope, like me, everyone becomes passionate about learning and trying out new flavours. There’s always something new and exciting to discover.