In the run up to Christmas I reached out to Vicky from Cocoa Therapy to arrange hanging out and possibly photographing her as she worked. She replied within a matter of minutes and invited me to a small market where she and a few other vendors would be hanging out, selling their goods and generally getting into the festive spirit.
Hanging out with Vicky is a delight. Not only is she one of the best chocolatiers in South Wales, she is a keen rower, a power lifter and a full time mother to top it all off. Not to mention a pusher of strongly caffeinated beverages!
I've always loved documenting people who work with their hands, especially those like Vicky who are passionate about what they do and hell bent on delivering something that quite frankly pisses on the every day and ordinary.
Despite living a busy lifestyle juggling school runs, multiple dogs and fitness, Vicky produces luxurious hand crafted chocolates at home in her family kitchen. The walls sport messages from her children and the family table, a plethora of moulds and tools that supply the demand.
Vicky trained with Mark Tilling, Bake Off Crème de la Crème winner and two time winner of UK Chocolate Masters. As if this wasn't enough, she then went on to enrol and graduate from Ecole Chocolat, an award winning school in Canada for all things chocolate. Still unsatisfied with her ability she then trained with world renowned chocolatier Melissa Coppel in Las Vegas.
This is what I really admire about Vicky. Much like her coffee servings, she refuses to do things by halves. Whether it's her sporting endeavours or her chocolates, if she can push her self harder she will.
She has already succeeded in sourcing the finest quality ingredients from various places worldwide. Her ability to craft flavours is second to none. Imagine a smooth mango, lime & passion fruit caramel piped it into a white chocolate ganache. Filthy good! Or even raspberry almond paste, raspberry ganache and a dark chocolate shortbread shaped into a giant ball of "get in my face-ness-ness".
Vicky has an ability to create unique pieces of edible art that will satisfy even the pickiest of sweet tooths. She has also mastered vegan treats which is a damn art in itself! Everything I watched come to life had an air of quality to it. They felt special. As if everything I was sampling was extremely rare, like something reserved for those who use secret handshakes.
Watching the care and meticulous techniques that go in to these pieces is mesmerising. Everything is well thought out, well practised and executed with an almost obsessive precision. Every piece is painstakingly hand crafted. Every colour is blended from scratch. Each filling created and hand piped. Plus the amount of tempering involved is enough to make you dizzy.
Vicky makes chocolates much like a prestigious tailor makes suits. There's a maddening detail that lies beneath the surface which most of us will never see. It's those tiny details that give Cocoa Therapy's products that feeling of prestige. That want for more. That warm feeling of proudness as you pass them over as a gift. Knowing that the creator has brought these things into life after many years of blood, sweat, tears, grit and determination.
Small businesses like this are a solid example of why we should shop small and local. When you do so you'll soon realise that your mass produced, mainstream "go to" is just underwhelming and a little bit... Well... Shit!
Follow Cocoa Therapy below;
Cocoa Therapy Shop - Keep an eye on her web store for the latest ranges. Though be warned, they don't stick around long!