Thursday, 13 October 2016

25 Years old and still passionate about chocolate

Devonport Chocolates turns 25 years old this year, and like all major birthdays it comes with a lot of reflection and looking to the future.

The original Devonport Chocolates range,
photo taken when we took over the business in 1999.
Devonport Chocolates started in a humble kitchen with a Mum and Daughter wanting a business challenge.  Gayle MacDuff and her daughter Joanne had the fabulous idea to start a small chocolate kitchen in 1991.  The core product was to be what was called the Truffle Log.  A fairly chunky piece of chocolate that you are meant to slice, perfect as gifts or presented as a dessert on a cheese board. Gayle's selling prowess saw them quickly stocked by Devonport Pharmacy and then they went from there.  After a few years and a move out of the kitchen and into a small industrial unit in Glenfield Gayle and Joanne sold to Linda & Kay who ran Devonport Chocolates as well as having full-time jobs at Air New Zealand.

While Devonport Chocolates was unfolding, my Mum Stephanie was feeling the need to end her long career in publishing.  Stephanie mentioned to _ & _ that if the ever wanted to sell the business she would be interested, she could already see the potential of this exciting business if it has someone to focus on it.  In 1999, Stephanie sat down for her first cup of tea of semi-retirement and the phone range Linda & Kay were selling Devonport Chocolates and would she be interested.  Mum has never looked back.  As a uni student my part-time job quickly became the family business and Mum and I found ourselves working together again, I didn't realise until today what a great circle for the business to have started off with a Mum and Daughter and to have ended up there too (plus a Dad and a brother in the mix too).

Circa 2003, our little chocolate shop in Devonport
Never to sit still for long within the first three years Stephanie had brought Devonport Chocolates back to Devonport by buying an industrial building in Wynyard St, Devonport and building the chocolate kitchen within the building.  We built our own website and opened our little chocolate shop, and somewhere in those crazy few years Stephanie also took herself off to chocolate school in Melbourne to the William Angliss Institute, after recognising that the business would only go so far with Truffle Logs and we now had a little shop that we needed to fill with chocolates.
One of our earlier Christmas ranges, probably around 2000

The first few years of owning Devonport Chocolates are a blur of late nights, early mornings and heaps and heaps of amazing staff.  I remember dreaming decorating holly truffles after doing it for days on end one Christmas.  We have had 2 complete re-brands, I've lost count of how many website rebuilds,  hundreds of amazing staff, thousands of incredible customers from around the world and goodness knows how many new flavours.

There are two groups of people that have been essential to Devonport Chocolates.

The first group are the incredibly loyal Devonport locals.  They were quick to adopt us as there own and proudly give a gift that was made in Devonport, a huge thank you to you all.

Our second group is our fabulous staff.  We have had experienced chocolatiers who have shared their knowledge and trained our staff, we have had people who have started packing chocolates after school and haven't left until they finished uni, some have even since come back to work for us again. Our staff are passionate about our chocolates, they really care about every single one being an amazing experience for our customers and their standards are incredibly high.

So where to from here for Devonport Chocolates.  We have been thrilled with the success of our bean to bar Samoan chocolate, and I'm incredibly proud of my Dad, this has been his baby for a couple of years now and we are looking at what else we can make with these beautiful beans we get from Nusi in Samoa. We never sit still for long so there are a few changes you will start seeing in Devonport Chocolates stores over the next few months as we keep racing forwards.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

World Chocolate Day Thursday 7 July 2016

Woo hoo, World Chocolate Day is nearly here, and like all celebration days World Chocolate Day gives you the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious chocolate themed activities.  Of course you can eat chocolate, that is a given but here are some other ideas, or things that you can do and use the fact that you are celebrating World Chocolate Day as the excuse.

  1. You can watch a chocolate themed movie!  Bundle up with your favourite chocolate treat and watch Chocolat, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  
  2. Cook a chocolate themed dinner.  There are two savoury recipes on our website, pork with orange chocolate sauce or cocoa and horopito crusted lamb, both delicious and both perfect for winter evenings.  Pop on over to our website to have a lookie.
  3. Say 'cheers' to chocolate and have a chocolate martini. For children and folks who are not keen on alcohol, we have delicious hot chocolate recipes too.  Click here for recipes.
  4. And finally, the piece, d'resistance a chocolate themed manicure.  I was personally inspired by milk chocolate as I was digging through my nail colours, and of course a bit of glitter.

I look forward to hearing cry's of 'chocolate made me do it' on Thursday as chocolate lovers around the world enjoy the day!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Chocolate mascaras, grenades, dog biscuits and chainsaws: One-of-a-kind chocolate gifts

At Devonport Chocolates we love helping our clients create truly memorable promotional gifts and with the festive season quickly approaching I thought I would share a couple or the more unique items we have made.  We often get emails or phone calls that start with "we were wondering if you could make....." and we love answering YES!

Earlier this year we were tasked with creating a chocolate mascara as part of a Maybelline Great Lash promotion.  Maybelline provided an actual mascara and our fabulous mould maker produced the mould for us to turn into chocolate mascaras.  Delicious chocolate and some hand foiling later and beauty journalists were presented with a mascara they truly had never received before.

Stolen Girlfriends Club launched a flagship store this year and for a memorable gift gave guests a chocolate grenade with Stolen emblazoned across it.

The tricky thing with promoting dog biscuits is that you are promoting them to humans.  Give a biscuit to your dog and apart from a wagging tail you can't really get any feedback from them and if your dog is anything like mine you are likely to get a wagging tail from most food you present to them so the folks at tux decided to get chocolate ones made so dogs and their owners alike are happy.

Chocolate chainsaws were one of the more challenging items we have had to make.  Our mould maker hand carved the mould off an actual chainsaw.  Small and large chainsaws were made for this promotion.

And finally last but certainly not least everyone thinks of flowers for displays but The Langham thought of chocolate and commissioned us to create a chocolate display for them at Easter.  This was displayed on the centre table in the foyer during Easter weekend, what a memorable welcome for guests!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

5 reasons why chocolate really can fix all of your problems

Being part of a chocolate business I often find myself looking for chocolate quotes to inspire staff, encourage customers to shop and of course justify this delicious food that we find ourselves eating every single day.  I often come across quotes extoling the benefits of chocolate by people a lot more famous and intelligent than me so I thought it was time to share why chocolate really can fix all of your problems, ‘scientifically’ backed up by quotes.

1.    Chocolate helps you achieve inner peace.
Isn’t it a fabulous thing when you complete something or a project comes to the end and you get to tick it off your ‘to do list’ and calm descends.  This quote is anonymous, but I have no doubt they were part of the work smarter, not harder movement.

“Put ‘eat chocolate’ at the top of your list of things to do today.  That way at least you’ll get one thing done.” Anonymous

2.    Chocolate makes everyone happy.
There are always various titbits of scientific research coming out showing that chocolate increases your endorphins, making you feel like you are in love but I think this quote from Sandra Boynton, a songwriter illustrator and children’s book writer sums it up all the better.

“The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare...neither knew chocolate.” - Sandra Boynton

3.    Chocolate is good for you.
Once again scientific research is starting to prove chocolate is good for your heart, blood vessels etc, (I must put my responsible persons hat on now and say, in moderation and dark chocolate preferably), but why trust me?  Justus von Liebig said it and he was a chemist from the 1800’s. 

“Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits.”  -  Justus von Liebig

4.    Chocolate is the perfect gift.
At Devonport Chocolates we have two shops and an online store.  Customers purchase gifts from us as much as they purchase a small treat on indulgence.  One thing has become very clear, it is the perfect gift.  Everyone loves chocolate.  It is an especially great gift for seasonal periods like Christmas and Easter (or did I mention staff and clients gifts?) Here we go with a Sandra Boynton quote again, she really loves her chocolate.

“As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate.” – Sandra Boynton

5.    And finally…. 
      “Chocolate is the answer, who cares what the question is” anonymous

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Gorgeous Chocolate Purses for Mother's Day

Yes you read the title right!  Our chocolatier Yoann Martichon has been coming up with some creative ways to use chocolate, and what could be more stunning than an edible purse?  Below is the step by step pictures of how these mini chocolate sculptures are created.

Yoann starts by splattering coloured cocoa butter onto a piece of flexible food grade plastic.

He then takes a piece of cellophane and spreads tempered chocolate onto it.  As it sets he cuts it into pieces to create the top and bottom of the purse.

Once the coloured cocoa butter splatters have dried Yoann spreads the plastic with tempered chocolate.

The plastic is then pulled together at one end and taped in place until it sets, this creates the basic shape of the purse.

The ends of the purse are created by putting a pool of chocolate onto greaseproof paper and then sitting the purse up in it until it sets.  This is done for both ends.

Once the purse is completely set the plastic is peel off from around the outside

Yoann takes the flat pieces of chocolate he created earlier and uses them to make the bottom of the purse, so it can stand up, and the top.

A couple of extra embellishments are added to truly make it look like a purse.  VoilĂ  a mini Chocolate Sculpture.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Cutting through the clutter with quirky and exciting gifts at Easter

With Easter rapidly approaching we have noticed an increase in corporate customers wanting unique and quirky gifts for their customers.
When we first opened our first retail store for Devonport Chocolates Christmas was by far the biggest seasonal event with Easter merely a drop in the sand.  Now Easter is fast making tracks to overtake Christmas and largely because of an increase in corporate orders.  A lot of our corporate customers have found that saying thank you to their customers or staff at this time of year has meant their gift is remembered and thoroughly enjoyed at a time of year when corporate gift giving is not normally the ‘done thing’.

Our corporate customers have come to us with increasingly exciting and challenging gifts that we have enjoyed creating including personalised Easter eggs with gifts of makeup in them, chocolate chainsaws and Easter gifts from $5 each to $200 each.  We are well versed in problem solving and love coming up with creative solutions to help our customers stand out from the crowd.  Drop and email to if a corporate Easter gift has been at the top of your ‘to do list’ and you just haven’t got to it yet.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Create your own wine and chocolate tasting at home for Valentine's

What could be more romantic for Valentine’s Day than a wine and chocolate tasting?  

Pairing wine and chocolate has always been a bit of a challenge.  I can confirm that after years of testing the theory myself I think I have come up with a (nearly) fool proof methodology as follows:

Don’t take it too seriously!  Have a bit of fun, it’s fabulous to do with a group of friends not just your partner/boyfriend/girlfriend.

Have a read of the wine label and try to match flavours in your wine with the flavours of your chocolate.  For example, berry tones tend to suit berry flavoured chocolates.

White wines and bubbles tend to suit white chocolates, milk and dark chocolates suit richer wines like merlots.

My most recent tasting experiment involved two superbly (and romantic) wines, Laurent Perrier Champagne and the Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Rose, both of which are consistently available at Glengarrys.

The champagne worked wonderfully with our coconut, mango and honey bon bon, this out of all the chocolates was my husband’s and my favourite.  The other notable flavour was the lemon and date truffle.

The Wooing Tree Rose went beautifully with our honey and raspberry bon bon, the freeze dried raspberry complemented the flavours in the Rose perfectly, I also enjoyed our limited edition dark chocolate raspberry and vanilla heart with rose.

So there you have it, a quick, easy and romantic Valentine’s date night for you or a group of friends.