As part of our occasional interview series with artisans we admire, today we are chatting with the multitalented Chocolatier and Artist Holly Caulfield, owner of Chocoholly - creator of the very best artisan organic chocolate based here in Brighton on Western Road.
1. What got you interested in chocolate?
When growing up I was influenced by my parents love of food, they were always experimenting with unusual recipes & ingredients. My mother baked her own bread in flower pots and used to distribute organic vegetable to the neighbours. She made cakes all the time and one favourite was the toffee cake, I enjoyed helping in the kitchen, especially licking the spoon. My grandmother taught me how to make dark chocolate Florentines when I stayed with her & used to always have dark chocolate in little dishes for guests. Around the time of my divorce I watched the film Chocolat & wanted to immediately start experimenting with chilli & chocolate, I was mesmerised by the magic that chocolate can bring.
2. What is special about Chocoholly chocolate?
I only use organic ingredients, as I am passionate about caring for the environment and our bodies by avoiding all foods which have been sprayed with chemicals. We use only the finest cocoa beans which are fairly traded which supports local farmers. My flavours are unusual and different, eg chilli & strawberry, cardamom, geranium bars, And my Great Taste Award winning Rich Milk chocolate which is 46% cocoa solids. And truffles with cherry, vodka & chilli or my salted caramels which have featured in The Observer Food monthly.
Everything is hand made with care and love in my shop in Hove. Its not available widely so its exclusive and distinctive, but we do supply 2 John Lewis foodhalls One in Oxford Street & one at Bluewater shopping centre. The packaging has my own artwork and designs on it.
Now we have started making chocolate from the beans in the shop and customers can actually see it being made. I think that’s very special.
3. Tell me about your workshops.
We teach people how to make their own truffles. We educate people about how chocolate is actually made from the bean: the journey from bean to bar. We offer a tasting experience of single origin chocolates from around the world. We host chocolate parties for corporate clients focuing on team bonding days. We also host hen parties which are really popular in Brighton where we have large groups of girls who want an alternative night out. Often they bring their mums too which is nice. Different ages all come together and it’s a really good fun activity in the shop in Hove.
We now offer a new ‘bean to bar’ chocolate workshop whereby customers help peel the beans, see how they are ground down, and get involved in the actual process of making the final bars of dark chocolate, which they can flavour with various ingredients, and take home This is a very unique chocolate experience and proving to be very popular in Brighton with the large vegan population.
4. What started you as a painter and what are your inspirations?
I studied a degree in Art at Bath University when my daughter was very young. I had an interest in mythology & oral tales, & the importance they hold . The course focused on psychological analysis of these ancient stories & how they effect the human psyche. I am interested in symbolism & studied the theory of Freudian, Jungian interpretation and Psychological meanings behind symbolism.
When I left University, I kept on pursuing my interest in that imagery that I was interested in, forming my own style, and looking at religious icons. I started painting and having exhibitions in my home in London and it grew from there. I then joined a co-operative where we all shared a gallery on the Southbank: I was there for 8 years. We also did shows together and then galleries offered me solo shows, and I have had many private commissions.
5. What are your influences in terms of art/design?
I love Japanese art and print making. Because it’s very simple of line. For me, It’s all about spontaneity. I love etching which is a method using acid on zinc plates, as it results in unexpected surprises which can be magical. Picasso is a massive influence. I love his many different periods. He changed, grew and developed using lots of different mediums.
Art is a great way of expressing yourself and also channelling deep subconscious truths, emotions and ideas. I love painting big bold colourful pieces with texture and vibrancy which uplift and inspire.
6. If you were to choose one piece of Swedish furniture from our website, what would it be and why?
I would choose the beautiful sleigh bed because it would take me on magical journeys! I would close my eyes and see where it took me and then paint pictures inspired by my journeys. I could also feature the sleigh in my shop window and display my Christmas chocolates on it with a snow scene, sparkling with edible jewels.
Chocoholly is the preferred chocolatier to Swedish Interior Design - the best tasting organic gorgeous chocolates we have ever eaten. Really recommended: so go Chocoholly's website and order yourself a cornucopeia of goodness.