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Scotland's larder: Chloe Oswald owner at Chocolatia, Perth

Chloe Oswald from Chocolatia talks to us about where her passion for chocolate comes from and about how excited she is to be be showcasing Perthshire’s natural larder in them.

Published: March 7, 2021
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Chocolatier Chloe Oswald was furloughed from her dream job at Gleneagles, but she is not one to sit back on her laurels.

She decided in November with the blessing of her boss Phil Skinazi, the Executive Pastry Chef at the hotel to set up her own business - Chocolatia as a sideline.

Chocolatia selection box

Initially she thought that they would be back at work full time in February and that she could enjoy the bumper chocolate selling periods of Christmas and Valentines and in her words, "hit the ground running."

But as potential reopening dates have slipped she is now delighted to be able to fit in both Mother's day and Easter orders as well, which she said, "has been great for me."

Her primary objective was to get the word out about her chocolates and keeping up her fine tuned making skills.

"Plus, building up my customer base and then see where it goes from there," she said.

Gleneagles

She initially joined the team at Gleneagles, before moving to work at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, but when Phil Skinazi tasted her petit fours he offered her a once in a lifetime dream job as the only chocolatier at Gleneagles.

As the ultimate luxury department, she has creative freedom along with others to make showcase chocolate pieces, which have included a huge chocolate eagle for the Solheim Cup and a child sized Pashley bicycle.

Chloe said, "so not something you do in any other job really. My job is entirely to say, look what we can do. How special can we make this."

Chloe Oswald Chocolatier Chocolatia

Chloe Oswald Chocolatier and founder of Chocolatia. Photo:  Jamie Butler

When the staff were furloughed in March Chloe explained that it was a shock for everyone but it allowed her some the time to reflect and take stock.

She explained that it is the first time she has ever really stopped working.

"Then we went back to work for those really strange months, where everything wasn't quite back to normal," she said.

Furlough

She talked to her boss, and he said the reality was that they probably wouldn't be doing chocolate in quite the same way for a while.

He said, 'If you are not happy, we need to work on something that is going to work for you.'

She had just reached the finals of UK and Ireland Junior Chocolate Masters Competition but due to Coronavirus the event has been postponed several times.

Chloe said: "it is a high stress competition, the industry equivalent to The Bake Off."

They were given a theme for the competition which ironically was 'The Changing World'

Chocolate is always on the to do list. Photo:  Jamie Butler

Chloe had submitted a showcase design, based on a concrete wall and nature rewilding, and was set to create; 24 chocolates of one type and a plant based plated dessert.

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She was working on her final designs for the competition when she got furloughed again.

She said, "It just felt like I was standing still. I really wanted to do something for myself to push myself to learn and grow. I just felt so stagnant, but obviously I am so lucky to have a job."

Her boss is one hundred percent behind her furlough project, but she took a couple of weeks to make her decision to start.

The reason was, "If I'm going to make chocolates at home, I want to do it right. I don't want to make chocolates purely to make money I want to make  chocolates to see what I can do," she said.

She made the decision to use the same chocolate as they use at Gleneagles, from Valrhona UK from Clarks Speciality Food.

Chloe said, "because it is amazing quality. I know where it comes from and I know that the cocoa farmers are treated well and I know and understand how it works."

Quality not quantity

She then create her company brand, website and worked out her costings, she said, "now I have something to go back to work with, and I can pick up my own business again whenever I want to.

"Just now I am only going to do what I can manage to cope with."

To date the venture has been a great success and she is hoping she can keep it going when she returns to work, but the ultimate aim will be to solely do her own chocolates eventually.

She said, " however that completely depends on, what happens and where the world is, and as we saw last year: just how much that can change.

"I am starting my business small because the quality of the product is the most important thing to me."

Fine Produce

She is also keen to highlight local produce in her chocolates.
She said, "there are a few small producers I'm working with including; whisky from Lochranza Distillery Gin from Gin Bothy, and Katy Roger's for dairy product.

Photo:  Jamie Butler

She said, "simply because I know they are good ingredients."
She is also plans to showcase Scotland’s wild larder by using botanicals such as elderflower and meadow sweet in her chocs and she is looking forward to a bumper summer harvest of Perthshire berries.

She has loved every second of creating her side hustle, which she admits, "has been a salvation, more than anything."

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Chloe said, "because it is just me doing it by myself and there is no big team, I really have the freedom to release whatever flavours I want.

"Everything is hand painted and decorated, it is a crazy amount of work but it is getting easier the more that I do it. I am learning what works for production and what doesn't."

What's in the box?

Chloe Oswald Chocolatier Chocolatia

Signature chocolate selection box includes her personal favourite flavour combinations: Photo:  Jamie Butler

 

Hazelnut Latte- "I don't drink coffee, but if it is in a chocolate I love it. This one is everything I want in a chocolate with a creamy hazelnut ganache and a crispy hazelnut layer, which for me is a dream. I will eat any that accidentally break when I'm making them."

Salt Caramel- She said, "everyone loves and raves about it so much I have made a box just for them. It is always a winner and I wouldn't see a selection box without it."

Caraibe 66- Her signature truffle showcases Valrhona dark chocolate couverture Caraibe 66% and she said, "this one is all about the chocolate flavour, this one I let the chocolate shine."

Passion fruit Punch- A tangy and zingy passion fruit caramel layered chocolate. She said "this one has a really punchy flavour because it is acidic. I have spent the last five years developing this recipe and I'm really happy with it."

Hazelnut Crunch- A half roasted hazelnut wrapped up in a crispy Feuillatine flakes, with caramelised sugar, flaky sea salt and creamy praline. "It is great, salty, sweet and nutty," she said.

Coconut & Lime- A white chocolate, filled with zesty coconut and lime ganache and it will transport you somewhere tropical when you eat it.

Which one would you eat first?

Fly me to Dunoon

Chloe was was born in Perth and grew up in Dunoon, but was always destined to be involved with food.

Chloe exlpained that her granny was Danish and a hotel chef, she said, " I always loved food. We have quite a big family and I always cooked for them."

With five kids in the house, money was tight she explains that "it was very much freezer food."

However she always wished she could make meals and imagined how good it would be to go into the shop and buy lots of ingredients to make something special.

Her other granny taught her how to make soup and big batch meals, and she remembers, "everybody would love to go back to this pot of soup and eat."

She said, "my upbringing wasn't by any means bad,  it has made me who I am today. One hundred percent. It gave me this love of food because there was always a desire to cook."

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After school she studied catering at college in Perth, "I had a really good lecturer at Perth College who taught me about pastry and I fell in love with it, " she said.

She then studied at City of Glasgow College, to delve a bit deeper into pastry making and chocolate in particular.

Chloe Oswald Chocolatier Chocolatia

Chloe Oswald making her chcocolates. Photo:  Jamie Butler

She said, "there is so much science to chocolate, it can take one tiny thing to change and you can end up with a completely different product.

Chloe said, "I like the safety of knowing that if I completely understand everything about this process then I can make it the way that I want it to go."

Influencers

Two major culinary influences on hers are Lorna McNee from Cail Bruich and Pam Brunton from Inver. 

She said, "both are strong women in the kitchen, and are inspirational and knowledgeable chefs, who have taught me so much."

She credits Pam Brunton with furthering her knowledge in the world of fine dining and instilling in her the importance of seasonal produce and foraging off the land.

Friends & Family

Chloe Oswald Founder & Head Chocolatier at Chocolatia

Chloe Oswald pays attention to the smallest details. Photo:  Jamie Butler

Family heritage is another important factor for her.

Her mum is 'proud as punch' of her achievements, although her mother doesn't have a sweet tooth, she jokes with Chloe, 'why you don't cook normal stuff, and just make steak pies. I don't want a chocolate eagle."

Chloe's also has Danish heritage through her mum's mum, Ingelise.

She came from Esbjerg and was a chef in a hotel and Chloe tells us, "she passed away before I started college, but I wish I could show her what I'm doing now."

Melting hearts

She also tells us that her granny met her husband, Arthur Selwyn Frederick working in the hotel where he was an entertainer.

Arthur, originally came from Trinidad but left the island because he didn't want to be a cocoa farmer on the family plantation,  instead he became a sailor travelled the world and met Ingelise.

They then both made the move over to the UK.

Chloe said, "sadly he now suffers from dementia and lives down south. But it is ironic that I have ended up so involved in chocolate."

During lockdown, she has also spent time teaching her other granny, Marion to make 'proper chocolates'; Chloe said, "she loves my salted caramels and she's a big fan of boozy truffles."

Chloe caught the baking bug from both her grandmothers, but her wider family and especially her boyfriend, Jamie Butler have supported her every step of the way in her new venture.

She is keen to point out that, "my family is such a big thing to me, and they influence so much of what I do."

Chocolatia

Chloe Oswald
Perthshire
Insta @chocolatia20

0771 489 1681

 

• READ MORE: Scotland’s Larder: Katy and her daughter Helena, from Katy Rodger’s artisan dairy

Scotland's Larder: Katy and her daughter Helena, from Katy Rodger's artisan dairy

Catriona is based in the Scottish Borders and works as part of the audiovisual team at the Scotsman but she reviews restaurants for Scotland on Sunday and writes for Scotsman Food and Drink in her spare time.

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