Simon Dunn Chocolatier - Why Easter is my favourite time of the year
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 April 2014
We discover what's cracking this Easter with a Cheshire family business, Simon Dunn Chocolatiers
Easter is a chocoholic’s dream. As stores are laden with Easter eggs, bunnies and other goodies it’s the perfect excuse to tuck into a sweet treat. For Simon Dunn, of Simon Dunn Chocolatier, it’s also his favourite time of year to create chocolate.
Simon, 52, says Easter is a great opportunity for his business to shine: ‘I just love Easter. It’s all about fun and colour, creating wonderful shapes that taste as good as they look. We gear up as we go along, but creating eggs does take up a lot of space!’
With over 25 years in the chocolate business, the Simon Dunn family brand now has four shops in Cheshire and one in Preston. ‘This year it’s slightly different as sadly our Wilmslow shop has closed and I have lost the workshop there,’ said Simon. ‘However, I’ve built my own workshop within our family home in Disley, and it’s a great place for me to experiment with different ideas and create made-to-order, personal designs. The biggest thing for me at the moment is the online aspect of business, it’s opened a lot of doors and more people are able to enjoy our chocolates via delivery.’
In the three weeks before Easter, Simon estimates that all his shops combined use roughly two tons of chocolate in creating scrumptious delights that would rival the Easter Bunny’s. ‘Customers clear the shelves of Easter products. I get such a great feeling when I wake up on Easter Sunday, knowing that so many children will be unwrapping a Simon Dunn egg or bunny. They are handcrafted eggs filled with delicious truffles.’
Chocolate genes appear to run in the family as both of Simon’s children are in the chocolatier business. His daughter, Camilla, and her husband, Andy, run the new Macclesfield store, and his son Oliver, hosts private chocolate parties. ‘When the two of them were younger, they would get fed up of my wife, Anne, and I talking about chocolate 24/7. Now, whenever they come over, that’s all we seem to talk about!’
Simon began his career at 15 working in a sweet factory. He was offered confectionery training courses within the UK and Europe, and after returning from Germany he began making chocolates from home. Sales grew and at the age of 25 he started Simon Dunn Chocolatier and the business has gone from strength to strength. ‘The art of the chocolatier is patience. I’m passionate about chocolate, and it takes great skill to create a quality product from start to finish. I take that for granted when I work with someone who doesn’t have the years of experience that I have.’
Simon uses only the finest Belgian chocolate to make everything from luxury truffles to chocolate shoes, to personalised chocolate cards and artisan bars. ‘The ‘snap’ you get when biting into a piece of our chocolate is the sign of excellence. It’s the same sound of a machete on a cocoa pod. I would really love to travel to somewhere like Ghana or Venezuela and do that, it’s on my list.’
Simon is always thinking of new projects and that hasn’t gone unnoticed in the trade. He’s been selected alongside other UK chocolatiers to work on the latest project of the Michelin starred chef, Heston Blumenthal. ‘The Great British Chocolate Bar’ will see Simon making a large piece of chocolate to create an enormous bar, which will be pieced together in London.
‘I just can’t wait to see what happens next in the evolution of this trade. I enjoy making every product that I sell, as each has a different process. Experimenting with flavours, you have endless combinations. I always wonder what is around the corner, what the next big thing is going to be.’ n