We’re looking to the future as part of the Year of Food and Drink, so who better to catch up with than Jamie Hutcheon, the winner of the Young Talent category of the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards 2015? Jamie, owner and Head Chocolatier at Cocoa Ooze in Aberdeen, beat off some serious competition to scoop the award for his handmade chocolate range but is he the modern day Willy Wonka?
Firstly, Jamie, congratulations on winning the Young Talent category. What does it mean to you?
Thank you, this award really is a milestone in my career of Chocolatiering. I started my journey 8 years ago after making the brave decision to branch out on my own and follow my dream of hand making luxury chocolates. To look back over the years and see what I have achieved already with the help from my growing team and to receive this award, is such a great feeling and so satisfying to be recognised and to win the Young Talent award. This is a proud moment.
How did you get into being a chocolatier?
I would thank my mum and grandma for passing on their passion for homemade cooking and baking. I was brought up in the kitchen, helping out where I could and really enjoyed the process of creating something from scratch. I studied hospitality and worked as Commis Chef at the Marcliffe in Aberdeen, it was from here I decided to take that leap and set up on my own focusing on the art of chocolate making. It was a scary decision to make at such a young age, but I have not looked back, it was the best decision I have ever made.
Tell us a bit about Cocoa Ooze, what makes it an award-winning business?
I believe Cocoa Ooze truly has a quality product, each of our chocolates are produced in our Aberdeen workshop and has been carefully handmade by one of our highly trained chocolatiers.
The high standard of quality control is measured on a daily basis and we strive to push our boundaries in creating delicious new flavours or even structures, in order to become the market leaders in chocolate making.
Not only do we have a quality product, we have built a brand that our customers trust, we pride ourselves in customer service, and working closely with each client to make their visions reality with our bespoke service.
We love the entire process, from speaking with our customers and coming up with new and exciting ideas, to adding the final touches to the packaging.
What are your favourite flavours and ingredients to work with?
We are always experimenting with creating new products depending on trends and seasons in order to push our boundaries and offer the market something new and delicious. I would say that my favourite ingredient to experiment with at the moment would be the rare Tonka bean, which comes from South America. The taste of the tonka bean is linked strongly to its many scents, such as vanilla, cherry, almond, and hints of cinnamon which gives me a lot of flavours to work with.
What is the most unusual ingredient that you use?
We have had many requests over the years that are far from the norm, but one that stands out the most is a fairly recent brief we had been set for one our clients. We infused tobacco with our ganache to create a new truffle to compliment a whisky. It was something we hadn’t tried before and as unusual as it sounds it tasted delicious and went down a treat with our client and their customers.
Here’s one you probably get asked all the time, but what is the difference between one of your chocolate bars and a standard mass-market bar from the supermarket shelf?
The difference between a mass produced bar and a handmade bar from Cocoa Ooze is quality. We are very strict in the fact that we don’t include any artificial ingredients or E numbers. All of the ingredients that we use is sustainably sourced and wherever we can from local companies. This benefits the quality of the chocolate, making it better for you, and also the taste is richer and lasts longer, giving you a more pleasurable experience.
The food industry is already booming with a variety of fantastic artisan producers and I feel there is so much more to offer. By attending many events throughout the year such as The Black Isle Show and The BBC Good Food show, we get the opportunity to speak with the creators behind the products that are already out there and hear about their processes and services which inspires us to progress as a company.
Cocoa Ooze can be found on Aberdeen’s Belmont Street. As well as selling delicious handmade chocolates, Cocoa Ooze has a chocolatey coffee shop serving breakfast, lunch and their signature chocolate afternoon tea.
If you fancy getting a bit more involved and learn about making chocolate bars and truffles you can take part in one of their workshops. With sessions geared specifically for adults or for children, Cocoa Ooze is a great place for some holiday fun.
For more information and to shop online visit www.cocoa-ooze.co.uk