About Time You Met: Paul A YoungBy Lucy Mansfield
Paul Young is the chocolate wizard behind Paul A Young Fine Chocolates. Since his arrival on the chocolate scene many moons ago, he’s still the only chocolatier in London working in a truly artisan way. If you haven’t tried his hot chocolate in the winter months – you haven’t lived. We caught up with Paul to discuss his latest partnership with Sky Box Sets, along with a lot of chocolate chat. Someone pop the kettle on:
How did you come up with idea of The Ultimate Chocolate Box set?
I’ve been working with Sky Box Sets on this project for nearly a year now from start to finish. When they approached me with this idea, I was excited from the offset as it sounded really interesting and unique. It seemed like the perfect way for me to create different chocolates and experiment with flavours in such an imaginative way. To see some of my favourite TV shows come to life through chocolate is fascinating and this is what makes this project so different to anything I have worked on in the past. Plus, I do love a good box set!
How did you choose the programmes?
Each chocolate represents one of the addictively good TV shows on the Sky Box Sets service. It was important that we picked box sets that were current and recognisable, but also where we could find flavours and create something that could represent the shows in a fun and unique way. Each chocolate had to encompass the shows’ key themes, so when someone tastes the chocolate they can say, ‘yes, this tastes just how I imagine Mad Men to taste’. We also wanted all of the chocolates to be really unique, so made sure we had a mix of genres.
What were the biggest challenges with The Ultimate Chocolate Box set?
The beauty of this project was how much I was able to experiment with flavours and spend time in my kitchen – I spent over 300 hours creating the nine chocolates to make sure they were totally delicious. I also spent almost 100 hours of watching TV to research and develop the ingredients that I would need – not that I was complaining!
The flavour, look and ingredients of each chocolate are rarely perfect on the first go. Some took a few rounds of trial and error, like Nashville for example. Originally we had the chocolate coated in a doughnut crumb, but we quickly realised that we wanted to show off the glitz, glam and sassiness of the show. This is where the gold wrapping and rhinestone came into play.
How do you make your chocolate?
Each chocolate has its own individual process, but all were lovingly hand-crafted without the use of any machinery just like all of my chocolate creations. I watched episodes from each show to help inspire what flavours could represent and would taste like the show.
When working on The Affair, as it is a drama with love at its core, I made the chocolate heart shaped to show the two main characters falling in love. The chocolate is covered in a pink scarlet powder which is inlaid on the top, leaving the chocolate slightly dented to represent the flaw in the love story. When you turn the chocolate over, you’ll find a hidden decoration on the bottom detailing red hearts, to bring out the hidden depth and secrets that are poignant in the show.
In terms of taste, the filling is a strawberry reduction and white ganache to highlight the intensity of the love story; the sweetness, fruitiness and juiciness of the two characters falling for one another is brought out in these flavours. The chocolate is a single origin grandeur, which leaves a sour taste taking them on a journey when eating the chocolate; its sweet at the beginning to highlight the lust in the storyline, which hits you first when you taste the chocolate, and then as the depth builds in the show and realism hits, this brings sourness – just like in The Affair, right?!
With The Walking Dead chocolate, I used a white empty chocolate shell and painted on a gruesome bloodshot eerie walker eye, all to highlight how a walker is hollow and soulless on the inside. With the Fortitude choc, this is a white chocolate sphere with a white chocolate crumb coating, which is then pearlised to bring out the icy and chilling elements of the show. With the Broadchurch chocolate, this is encased in a dark sphere to mirror the twisted storyline. It has then been delicately piped with blue and white striped decoration, to represent the look and feel of a seaside.
What’s your favourite box set?
That’s an impossible question to answer as it’s dependent on what mood I’m in, as to what box set I choose to watch. Most recently I watched the whole series of Fortitude and found myself hooked as it was so impossible to guess what was going on. I absolutely love Modern Family – I am literally crying with laughter from start to finish when watching the episodes. It’s so easy to dip in and out of that box set too. 24 is another series I often watch when I’m after some action-packed TV.
Are you sick and tired of the taste of chocolate or do you still like it?
I never get tired of chocolate, the day that happens will be the day I give it up…
How long have you worked in the world of chocolate?
I’ve worked in the chocolate industry for around 14 years now, and I started my own retail business in the last 10 years – it has absolutely flown by! When I think back to the first shop I opened in Islington, to think I have two more is crazy. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and it’s a very rewarding job. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
Have you always had a passion for chocolate or is it something that developed later in life?
It’s actually something that I developed later in life. As a youngster, probably around 10 years old if I can remember correctly, I was bought all types of chocolates and different qualities including Thorntons so I think it stemmed from that point. After graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University where I studied Hotel Catering and Management, I then went on to be a pastry chef for Marco Pierre White, where I would practise using fantastic tasting chocolate to create desserts. This is when I began to specialise in chocolate and found that I had such a passion for it – hence the next 14 years and three shops later!
What’s your favourite restaurant to go out for dinner in London?
Another hard question and I can’t pick just one. I LOVE The Ivy – it’s one of my favourite and very old school glamour. Hawksmoor and Treadwells are other favourites of mine, everyone must go.
What three tips would you give to a budding chocolatier?
If I had to give three tips they would be to one) develop your own style and signature, two) give yourself creative time to allow your brain to process creative thoughts and ideas – this is a very important one. And three) perfect perfection…if that’s even possible.