Kerry Witt creates home-made artisan chocolates in the New Forest. Kerry Witt, the founder of Chocolate By Miss Witt is a Michelin Star trained pastry chef who has worked for Alex Aitken at Le Poussin and for Terence Conran at Bluebird Chelsea. Kerry lives in the New Forest, sources different varieties of chocolate from across the globe and uses many of the fruits that are grown and foraged in the New Forest.
Now, I’ve often suspected that readers of The Fabulous Times are the greatest, most talented, wonderful gang of individuals ever to grace our fair planet! When Kerry emailed me asking if i’d like to sample some of her fine chocolate creations, my suspicions were confirmed! The Fabulous Times readers are THE GREATEST and deserve to be celebrated. Artisan Chocolate by Miss Witt is the focus of this weeks dream business feature, I cannot wait to share Kerry’s work with you. Kerry took time out of her hectic schedule to share her delicious, mouth-watering story:
Q: When did you first discover your love of chocolate? Age 3 to taste! For my 7th birthday I made my own birthday cake, which was a train cake covered in chocolate butter cream and decorated in sweets. Each year it became an obsession to make birthday cakes in different designs and most of them were made from chocolate, chocolate cake is still one of my favourites today. As a child the 1st book I bought myself was a cookbook and I would be fixated on looking at all the beautiful chocolate recipes. My love for chocolate really came into its own when I become a pastry chef and could include a chocolate dessert into every menu I created and make chocolates for petit fours every day.
Q: Currently your chocolates are sold at the Exclusive Captains Club Hotel and at your local market, where would you most like to see your chocolates being sold? I would like to supply a few more unique hotels and select shops e.g The farm shop on the Waitrose, Leckford Estate near Stockbridge, it’d be wonderful to use some of their produce and to turn it into chocolates; I envisage a complete cycle from land to shop floor to customer. Of course, I would also like to supply some of the well known stores such as Liberty’s & Claridges.
Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your chocolate recipes? I get my inspiration from the seasons and local produce around me. I am often inspired from recipes I created as a pastry chef for example the ‘pink peppercorn with white chocolate’ and the ‘Thai scent’ came from a dessert I used to create. This was a Thai ice cream cylinder stack filled with mango and paw- paw, surrounded by pink peppercorn syrup. Knowing these flavours work in harmony together I created two different chocolates with these flavours…. when these chocolates are being produced the aromas are so enchanting and you know that its going to be a perfect day!
Q: You mentioned you source chocolate from all over the world, how does the taste differ from country to country? Cacao trees are grown at 20 degrees either side of the equator. Even though all cacao trees are grown at this latitude, the chocolate that is produced from all the countries along this line taste quite different. There are several reasons for this anomaly one is there is different variety of beans that be grown including Criollo, Forastero , Trinitario, then there is also another element which is the ‘terroir’ this is the climate, soil type, terrain combined what other plants which are grown around the cacao trees.
Q: As an independent business woman what’s the biggest struggle you’ve faced?
Set up costs. Working alone, also living with arthritis. I had a hip replaced last year, due to the disease spreading so quickly. it has now taken hold of my hands, which makes my working life difficult, as even though I have pain management some days I just have to stop working as the hands become really stiff, and the joints are very swollen. I have a motto ‘on good day go with it’ and the same applies to a bad day, but this can be very frustrating at times, when I have a week of bad days and have deadlines to meet. I have a dream though, to create beautiful chocolates and will succeed with this, even though the business may take longer to grow, I will do so in my own time. Apart from being my passion, I believe there is a need a for beautiful chocolates is this world to take people on a journey of discovery of taste.
Q: Can you offer any nuggets of wisdom/ advice for readers who want to ditch the day job and start their own dream business?
If you have a passion and a love, do it! Make sure your branding is done by a graphic designer as this represents you and your business, from the start. When you are going to see potential clients, always make yourself look smart as you to are representing your brand, with 1st impressions counting a lot. I would also recommend you use professional photographs, as this makes a world of difference on how people perceive you and they will take you seriously if you show a professional attitude and approach.
Thank you to Kerry for sharing her inspirational journey and unique chocolate treats. Receiving the beautifully wrapped chocolates felt like Christmas had arrived early. The pristine white box tied with luxurious black ribbon was packed with experimental flavours. Kerry creates each chocolate recipe individually, a few personal favourites included the ‘Afternoon Tea’ chocolate made from Earl Grey Tea, bergamot and white chocolate, the ‘Tingling taste’ made from strawberries, white chocolate and champagne and the contrasting dark chocolate ‘Chilli Dreams’ made with chilli and sweet vanilla. You can see from my face that Kerry’s creations kept me smiling for days and even received a double thumbs up from my Dad! Unlike some high-end chocolates, Kerry’s range of flavours didn’t feel over powering or overly rich and heavy, the delicate combination of ingredients meant each chocolate told it’s own story, taking you on a taste journey as you slowly recognise the flavours, as it melts in your mouth.
‘If you have a passion and a love, do it!’ – Kerry Witt