Independents' Day - Chocaholics Paradise, Sidmouth
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:11 27 February 2018
Martin Osedo, of Chocaholics Paradise, in Temple Street Sidmouth.
Please introduce yourself...
I have the best job in the world: as a chef! I am happiest when cooking, no question! And the move to Sidmouth six years ago was definitely the best move. There’s a peculiar charm and tranquil quality of life, that is so very rare, uplifting and fulfilling, so much that I have Sidmouth and my boss to thank for my lovely wife and babies.
In all my years as a chef I have always had the greatest passion for sweet things, and more so, the chocolatey variety: cakes, tarts, sponges, puddings, cheese cakes, chocolates of all sorts(bonbons, truffles, pralines, moulded, filled, etc). Whilst I do love the traditional chocolate whatever-it-may-be, I recognise, appreciate and embrace that mankind has come a long way in terms of food culture. That is why every culture imports/exports something or other.
I grew up around cocoa, coffee, banana and sugar-cane plantations, amongst many others, watching my father and others toil with love to produce amazing things. I had to help at harvest, and the subsequent processes. The pure smell of harvest, the drying, roasting and conching always worked a magical yarn in mind and soul. And I learned to feel and live with it, dreaming of owning my own Chocolate Paradise one day, doing all sorts chocolate.
In my formative years as an apprentice, you can imagine how even though basic(compared to present times!), chocolate work was revered in hotels and restaurants, primarily as an after dinner treat. It was imperative to get it right, what with a traditional palate to cater for which was very good, not too adventurous/exciting/wild, no herbs, no olives, no this no that, (as an example, good old orange and its liqueurs, nuts in the many forms and of course, raisins, etc... and fruit, up to a point), was safe, tried and tested. It was almost exclusively left to the big houses to be dangerously creative, and they have in so many ways done a lot to inspire and encourage the consumption of chocolate as indeed a luxury commodity, enjoyable any time, great for presents, and the perfect way to celebrate any occasion. I learned what I could, and whenever possible, indulged my passion/hobby-making, eating, sourcing and sampling chocolate.
Many years later living in leafy Sidmouth and a yearning for fresh, pure, crisp, fine chocolate with a snap, different, inspiring as found in continental Europe and Mexico, robust of flavour, definitive in substance and filling, without additives, no rubbery bakers’ chocolate, no chocolate substitute, took me to Melchior’s in South Molton. I gorged!!! Memories from many years past were awoken, stirred and set alight.
And we talked.
Back to learning, and it was glaringly obvious chocolate tastes best a few days after being made. At the end of twelve days, a true connoisseur would be able to distinguish the on-setting mucky, rancid, turgid aromas and flavours of old chocolate. This applies only to fresh, pure chocolate prepared without additives and extenders, stored and eaten at 15-19Celsius. Imperative! I love chocolate so much, pure chocolate, nothing comes close, I had to make fresh chocolate and showcase what it’s about, and to this end, after a few years, Chocaholics Paradise Ltd was born, December 2016.
I work the shop with my wife. I hand craft all the chocolates on the premises and she tends the shop. Our little chocolate taster always has something to say, so we try to make and set up during his nap! This is what determines our opening hours 12-4, Wednesday to Saturday in the winter, and 12-5.30, Wednesday to Saturday the rest of the year. It’s the most beautiful thing creating all those chocolates; and far from bragging, one has to see to believe. I know for sure as most of our clients say, the pleasure derived from eating them is second to none, and because of the robust, delicious flavours that sometimes can be surprising, they are guaranteed to be enjoyed and savoured over several days. Which to me then means value and pleasure for the clients... a visual, olfactoral and taste fest over time.
It has been a year of finding our feet, and getting established, making sure we are known and recognised. Grave mistakes have been made, and we learn from them. It has been evolving from day one, every new day beating the previous! Now that we have ascertained how the chocolates shift and play, we are progressing to phase II, dairy free, sugar free chocolates, and a few surprises every so often. We are looking to be making true my dream of all things chocolate not before long. In the past we have prepared a fair few all sorts chocolate for our clients, to order, and that is our preferred way to work. This guarantees freshness and a quality product prepared with love, due care and attention. We do have tasting days, at least once a week, where we showcase and have clients taste what we hope to bring out soon. We recommend and welcome all; feel free to come in any time, and say hello, and maybe have a nibble. You will find us on Lawn Vista, just off Temple Street.
What advice would you give to anybody considering setting up an independent shop?
One learns things, mostly the hard way. If I was to share with anyone considering to setting up shop independently, is never depend on anyone, find a mentor, and not necessarily one tied in with the financing of the project or as benefactor in kind. A mentor will always help you see things with so many sets of eyes and feel/approach situations differently. A mentor helps with the strengthening of mind and focus on self belief. You must believe in yourself, your dream, your objective, almost obstinately! And this gives purpose, drive, discipline and the joy to carry on every new day and especially when all around you is not looking too good! Have faith! Things always come around, and good things always come out tops!
I find being open and approachable to clients helps, especially with some of our interesting flavours. It allays any doubts, gives confidence and for sure, for many of them, it is a learning process too, embracing new flavours, ideas, and new ways of chocolate preparation and presentation! We believe that not only should chocolates taste divine, they must have a positive side benefit to your health! Pleasure is core!
We have a web shop that is constantly evolving and growing. You can reach us via Facebook, or email.