Calling all Chocolate addicts! Is there be a better job than Head Chocolatier at one of the city’s most exciting premium chocolate brands Coco Chocolatier? Find out for yourself as we chat to Byron Kennedy who has that lucky position…
You used to be a pastry chef at various Edinburgh restaurants. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got to be a chocolatier?
I started my career off at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder as a commis pastry chef. I learnt the fundamentals of a professional kitchen there and it was a great foundation for the future pastry sections I would eventually run.
I moved to Edinburgh after that and began working at the Michelin starred Plumed Horse in Leith as Pastry Chef. Tony Borthwick taught me the art of seasoning in desserts and gaining maximum flavour from every ingredient.
I met my best friend and future mentor, Gordon Craig, while working at the Plumed Horse. He is now Chef Patron of Taisteal in Stockbridge. Years later, I would become Gordon’s sous chef at Field on West Nicholson st. After 3 years as Sous chef, I took the role of Head chef in 2015.
Ive always wanted to work solely with chocolate. The versatility and the depth of flavour in the bean from different regions all over the world has always intrigued me. When the chance arose to become a chocolatier for Coco, I immediately jumped at the opportunity, and it’s been everything I dreamed of and more.
Can you tell us a bit about the Coco Chocolatier brand?
Coco Chocolatier is a brand that pulls together creative individuals to make really delicious chocolate wrapped in amazing artwork. We work with artists and designers to keep the look of our chocolate as fresh and inspiring as the flavours we are making. We change the chocolate infusions and packaging designs regularly. It is a very dynamic and ambitious brand with a love of chocolate and creative design.
What does being head Chocolatier involve? What does your average day entail?
It is a day filled with hard and precise work! We make sure that the quality of our product is consistent and that the couverture is just right. This involves working within very small degrees of temperature during our tempering process to get a product thats shiny, has a good snap, and most importantly, tastes amazing! We currently hand pour and hand wrap all of our bars and produce between 600 and 800 bars per day. During the Christmas period this number increases to 2000 per day. It’s hard work but at the end of the day I smell gloriously of chocolate!
Where do you look for inspiration for new flavours?
I look for inspiration all the time. I draw a lot from my time as a pastry chef, testing different flavours I’ve used before and seeing if they translate well with the chocolate. Along with Emily Rankin, my fellow chocolatier, and Calum Haggerty, the director of Coco Chocolatier, we regularly discuss different flavour combinations and ideas.
As we collaborate with great businesses and artists we often develop flavours inspired by their work. Recently, we’ve created flavours with Eteaket Teas, which are incredibly flavoured and have an amazing aroma!
We are currently in the process of developing a new range and we are all really looking forward to tasting some of the final products very soon.
Which are your favourite Coco Chocolatier flavours and why?
The Hazelnut and Seasalt 40% milk bar is definitely my favourite! The combination of flavours is fantastic. Our milk chocolate has an unbelievable depth of flavour which comes from a single plantation in Colombia. Combined with the toasted hazelnuts and Isle of Skye Seasalt, it makes a bar that’s sweet and savoury at the same time, and incredibly delicious.
You have a free 24 hours to spend in the city. What do you and where do you go?
I love the Botanic Gardens. There’s just a feeling you get when you go there, that immediately fills you with peace.
A walk round Newtown is also great – there is an abundance of arty shops that are great to wander through.
During the summer a beer garden is really the place to be in the evening. The Pear Tree has always been somewhere I like to go for a pint in the sun!