A craving for the traditional: What it's like to be a chocolatier

Imagine spending every day surrounded by delicious chocolate – is your mouth watering yet?

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For Richard Lefevre it’s not just a nice dream as he’s been making his own sweet treats for some 25 years.

At first he was just creating them for family and friends but soon he was supplying his chocolates to cafes, shops and restaurants. In the early days he enjoyed finding out how to make chocolates and creating different flavour combinations. But was delighted to find that the more he made the more other people were enjoying his creations too.

“To think that something I get a lot of enjoyment from and find very therapeutic can make someone else happy too – that the happiness is passed on – that’s where the joy lies for me,” says Richard.

In 2017 he was happily reunited with a former colleague Laura, who is now his wife, and together they have expanded the Shrewsbury-based business to include the wholesale market.

“Now it feels so good that finally I have the business I always wanted – using one of my passions – thanks to Laura’s involvement over the last few years.

“With our first child due in June it gives it a new added enjoyment that soon I will be able to pass on and teach my own child these skills if they are interested – training up the second generation of Lefevre chocolatiers,” he says.

When Richard first started out on his chocolate making journey, artisan chocolatiers were few and far between and he visited Paul A Young in London to discuss methods and flavours. This ignited Richard’s passion for fine flavours and not over complicating chocolates so that their quality ingredients speak for themselves.

This year's Easter chocolate box

And in recent weeks he’s been busy crafting egg-shaped truffles, filled with seasonal flavours of raspberry and rhubarb, for their Easter box.

Laura says she wanted the box to scream Easter in its design and colours so she chose a luxurious textured brown box, filled with food safe yellow straw to give contrast to the nine egg-shaped truffles nestled inside, finished off with a yellow and white polka dot ribbon.

As for the decoration on the egg-shaped truffles, Richard says he likes the simplicity of lines and spirals.

“Sometimes a simple decoration speaks louder than lots of colours. The chocolate speaks for itself. All it needs is an identifiable marking, so you know what you’re about to eat.”

This was something he noticed during his time in London – the chocolatiers he admired the most all had one thing in common – they all veered towards traditional, simple, well-made chocolate rather than choosing style over substance.

“I always knew I wanted to be one of those types, rather than these ultra-modern ones you see about these days. There’s a real beauty to tradition,” says Richard.

As many people won’t be visiting their loved ones this Easter time as planned, they have seen an increase in customers requesting they post their orders directly to their family and friends.

“This is something we are happy to do. We will even hand write a little Easter card with words chosen by you to be included in the box,” says Laura.

Their range of artisan chocolates offer flavours such as cappuccino, caramel and Irish cream, and they also sell slab bars in flavours including pistachio and sea salt, raspberry, salted caramel crunch and Eton mess.

Their products are currently stocked in nine locations around Shropshire and one holiday cottage gives Lefevre Chocolate in their welcome packs.

Last summer they designed and manufactured a unique product called the Shrewsbury Duo Bar, hoping it would appeal to tourists visiting the town and locals alike.

One bar has the iconic Shrewsbury river loop design on and the second features the couple’s signature Darwin design.

Richard's Easter egg-shaped chocolate truffles

Richard believes their chocolates appeal to people looking to indulge in a special treat

“I think people look for something to spoil themselves with. Something to cheer themselves up with. Or they want to treat someone else to happiness. Flavour combinations that are popular right now are salted caramel and dark chocolate.

“We get asked for vegan alternatives a lot, but this isn’t really something we are going into. Some of our dark products are naturally vegan so there is something to cater for them already.

“I think it really comes down to individual tastes – as we don’t see too much of a clear leader across our flavour offering – they all tend to average out so we must offer the right mix of flavours to cater for most people’s tastes.

“If you like milk, dark or white we probably have a flavour you’ll enjoy. I know we have a few loyal repeat customers who have their definite favourites, one only buys our cherry slab bars and another only buys our salted caramel slab bars.

Making chocolates is definitely a labour of love for Richard and he believes this comes through in the finished product.

“Our chocolates are lovingly made to flavour profiles that we love – erring on the side of traditional rather than following fads and flavour fashions – simply charming chocolates. The passion and love we put into making them – we have been told can be ‘tasted’ – people come back time and time again saying they have never tasted anything quite like it – maybe because the love and passion that’s gone into them is palpable,” he says.

See lefevrechocolate.wordpress.com

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