My Week: Willie Harcourt-Cooze, Chocolatier

The Devon-based chocolatier continues his mission to convert the British public to the taste of pure chocolate
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The Independent Online


I'm at work in my chocolate factory in Devon at 6.30am. I finish off roasting a Peruvian chocolate that I am making. I have an apprentice worker but other than that, I make all the chocolate myself. I work until 5pm, go home to have a quick dinner, change and then jump on a train to London. I stay with my sister in Shepherd's Bush.


I do publicity all day for my TV show, starting with BBC Breakfast, then on to This Morning. I go to my publishers, Hodder & Stoughton, and sign hundreds of books and do a radio interview from a studio there. Then it's into a car and another interview with Five, then more radio. It's interesting doing all the publicity. I don't see myself as a celebrity, but as Willie the Chocolate Man it's a bit strange. I can't imagine how people do this as part of their daily routine; it's exhausting to be so chirpy and get your mission statement across. In the evening I go to Euston and catch a train to Liverpool. My TV show, Willie's Chocolate Revolution, airs on Channel 4 tonight but I miss it because I'm on a train.


I'm doing a four-day event at Liverpool ONE. There's a chocolate fair, and I'm doing two talks a day taking people through the process of making chocolate, from the bean to the bar. I take people through the flavour and introduce them to those forgotten flavours of pure chocolate. It's interesting: people have never tasted a raw cocoa bean. Most people slightly wince; some like it. I miss lunch in favour of a quick power nap and then back to do another talk. I watch my TV show tonight. It's almost depressing as it's all about the bean disaster, when I had to resource all my beans and it reminds me of the worst week of my life.


I have my first lie-in for a while then go for a nice walk all around Liverpool. It's really a beautiful city. I do the chocolate fair again. Later on I meet some of the chocolate people of Liverpool, which is nice as we're all so passionate. People don't know what real chocolate tastes like any more; even some 70 per cent chocolate still has milk fat in it. Chocolate is like wine: if you're using the best ingredients, you get a better flavour. My chocolate probably tastes like what the huge multinational chocolate companies tasted like 100 years ago.


I'm going back to spend Easter with my family. It's hard being away but we have a mission to do here. Recently my time has been overtaken completely but it should quieten down a little soon. I might make some chocolate eggs for the kids when I get home, although it's like Easter at our house every week.

'Willie's Chocolate Factory Cookbook' by Willie Harcourt-Cooze is out now, published by Hodder & Stoughton