Im Ellie Wharrad, Founder and Chocolatier at Studio Chocolate. I began my patisserie journey back in 2012, when I was in the middle of A Levels, and had no clue where to go next. I looked into studying at University, but nothing really grabbed my interest, and I'm a firm believer in doing something you love. I have always baked and loved food, so I started to explore opportunities in that area, and there I found Le Cordon Bleu. As soon as I read about other peoples experiences it seemed the perfect fit - it was also in London which is a city I've always wanted to experience living in. I applied and got on to the Patisserie course starting that September. It was so daunting moving down to London and starting at a school where I knew no one, but it soon became a very comfortable and exciting place to study. Learning everything from different ways of cutting fruit, to intricate sugar sculptures, I literally learnt everything I could've dreamt of there, and set me up very nicely for my career in chocolate.
I came home and applied for a volunteer Stagier position at Sat Bains, where I worked for a month in the kitchen. This was one of those life changing experiences, which I didn't realise until recently. It was possibly the toughest month of my life (well.. until that point in my life!) working long hours for the first time, and learning how much work and time goes into small elements in a final product is something I'll never forget, and I use that mindset everyday. Why settle with 'it'll do'? My experience at Sats also changed the way I look at food, I never touched seafood before, and now its all I eat. I have the freedom in myself to experiment with new flavours and create flavour combinations which you may not initially think go well together - its about engaging peoples curiosity I guess.
After Sats, I looked at applying to restaurants, but I felt like I wanted to work for myself and have the freedom to create my own products - it was just finding an outlet. So my dad booked a trip to Brugge, Belgium, for my mum and I, which Im sure you can imagine is full of chocolate shops - but the one thing that confused me was everything was the same colour. After learning the skills to paint chocolate at Le Cordon Bleu, I couldn't believe no one had picked up on it - and there my idea was born. I started practising at home, and advertising on Facebook and through friends, and being just before Christmas it was the perfect time to get my name out there. In the new year, me and my Mum and Dad had a chat and decided to give it a go, and find somewhere for me to make chocolates and sell online. We rented a 3rd floor studio in the centre of Nottingham, which gave us the flexibility of people being able to collect orders too - and there began Studio Chocolate. Later that year, I came up with The Artist Collection - a range of chocolates inspired by different artists. Each chocolate being individually hand painted, gives it such a unique feel, and along with the cards in the box, its a great concept - not your average box of chocolates. That christmas was incredible, I couldn't believe the demand for it, I ended up working a hell of a lot more than I thought I would and I realised it was really something that was going to work. I had a lot of enquiries about classes, which wasn't really feasible in the 3rd floor studio, so when the room on the first floor became available - we jumped at the chance. Keeping the kitchen upstairs, and having a studio downstairs where I could host classes, parties and also have a shop area. We soon realised running up and downstairs wasn't really ideal, so developing a fully equipped kitchen on the same floor was the next step, and that is where we are now. Its the best thing that we could've done to take Studio Chocolate to the next stage, its an incredible space to work in! I can't wait to develop more ideas, employ chocolatiers and host lots of events in the future, its really bloomed in the last year and Im so proud of what Studio Chocolate has become, I cannot wait for it to develop even more in the years to come!