You might think Selfridges confectionary hall is the place to find fine choc, what with its swish new look and extensive curated chocolate library. But this weekend, you’d be wise to wander beyond the Foodhall to the Makegood Festival in the Selfridges Hotel – a celebration of business enterprise comprising a cracking collection of creative start-ups across almost every industry.
There are plenty of nuggets of wisdom to be plucked from the extensive lecture and workshop programme, but there’s also a fair few sweet treats to get your teeth into. I was lucky enough to be taken on a whistle-stop tour of the Marketplace by Asma Khan – who first fuelled me up on papri chaat from the stall where she’s showcasing Darjeeling Express’s ‘Imli Timli’ tamarind chutney.
Chocoholics take note – make a beeline for these sweet new companies at Makegood…
Well, he’s not new. But you probably knew that. Paul’s been so successful with the brand he launched through the School For Creative Start-Ups that his wares are now listed in Selfridges’ chocolate library – but he’s at Makegood to make noise about a brand new bar that does good.
And boy, does the ‘Syria’ bar taste good, too. All Cocoa Hernando bars are names for places, but the Damask-rose redolent dark chocolate is Paul’s first philanthropic endeavour. I’m sure he’ll endeavour to eke out stocks all weekend, but samples of this specimen are already by request only – get yours whilst you can.
The infectiously enthusiastic Kieran Renihan has been on the scene for a while, too – focusing on edible education with workshops and DIY raw chocolate kits. But now he’s nicely nailed his branding with a trio of chic brown cardboard boxes containing all the wherewithal one needs to embark on the chocolate trip of their choosing.
The ‘Botanist’ box introduces cacao beans from around the world; the ‘Time Traveller’ tells the whole history of hot chocolate; and the ‘Explorer’ enables the owner to turn their hand to hands-on raw chocolate-making. It’s all about education in an accessible, thoroughly enjoyable way, and I like that. And I like the sharp snap of Kieran’s chocolate too – a rather rare thing when it comes to raw.
Name-checking the country’s first Halal-certified chocolate company is a no-brainer for The Cocoa Nut who’s also The Spice Scribe. Aluva is showing off similar fantastic fusions of Eastern flavours and Western products as exemplified by Indian-inspired confectionary from the likes of Devnaa, Duke of Delhi, and The Chocolatier.
You’ll find flavours like Saffon & passionfruit, Orange & cardamom and Ylang Ylang; fancy foil-wrapped chocolates piled into pretty patterns in an endless array of presentation boxes. Seasonal selections and bespoke centrepieces are offered for gifting, events and weddings – the team can even create a tiered wedding cake constructed entirely from the chocolates of your choosing.
Talking of cake, you will need ample time to stand and stare at Cake Me Baby’s Makegood stand. ‘Showstopper’ stops quite some way short of describing these babies. Classically-trained patissiere Alessandra Estrada is an Alan Ducasse-trained, fashion industry exile whose wares are miles better than anything you have ever seen. And that’s an understatement.
They’re not only better than anything you’ve seen, they’re unlike anything you’ll have encountered. Statement cakes might depict piles of cocaine, sharp-toothed Venus flytraps, or full-scale couture dresses. All exemplify Cake Me Baby’s ‘fur coat AND knickers’ approach. And, after relishing a rhubarb and custard cakepop, I can attest that the insides do indeed taste as good as the outsides look.
Aptly named, because I was rather blue I barely got time to glance at Blue Chocolates’ range. I did discern that ‘nature’ and ‘world flavours’ are major inspirations, and that ethical ingredients are of utmost importance – all scrupulously sourced by the founders. A swiftly-scoffed square of dark chocolate studded with freeze-dried raspberries and cocoa nibs confirmed quality.
And a swift scan of the website revealed that health is high on Blue Chocolates’ agenda. Freeze-drying the fruits not only intensifies flavour but also preserves vitamins and minerals, whilst low-temperature slow-roasting of nuts keeps good fats intact. Terry’s can get its coat – Blue Chocolates pairs its orange with chilli and Congo chocolate, and crushed coffee and Dominican dark choc.
This company doesn’t create chocolate, but I’m every bit as nuts for its range of nut butters as I am for the brown stuff. Not claggy like British brands; not all whipped up like American examples – just right. I feel that it surely would not be wrong to take a spoon and a jar into a quiet corner and scoff the lot straight from the jar.
For people like me with no self-control, Pip & Nut will be selling single-portion sachets. The shelf-ready range already includes a slightly-Cornish-sea-salted peanut butter that tastes far more like that legume than most and an addictive coconut-agave almond paste that I suspect may need to be declared a controlled substance. It’s like crack, only all-natural and good for you.
- Did you make any discoveries at the Makegood Festival? Don’t be selfish, share if so…