Meet the Maker, an interview with…
…Sue Gilmour of Sue Gilmour Chocolate
Welcome to the first in our series of Meet the Maker interviews. To kick us off, what better place to start than with chocolate!
Sue Gilmour Chocolate is a small Herefordshire based company built around Sue’s passion for chocolate. Sue specialises in flavoured chocolate, inspired by her garden, creating a beautiful range of botanical infused flavours. We caught up with Sue herself to find out more…
“I have always loved all things sweet so learning to work with chocolate seemed like the dream job.”
What led you to set-up Sue Gilmour’s Chocolate?
Mine is a common story. I worked in Marketing for a software company. The company was bought out and all the UK staff were made redundant. It was the perfect opportunity to revaluate my working life and I quickly came to the conclusion that I wanted to do something I had a passion for and that would make people smile. I have always loved all things sweet so learning to work with chocolate seemed like the dream job.
What is your inspiration for Sue Gilmour’s Chocolate?
My love of food starts from the seed. I love my garden, especially growing fruit and vegetables and found inspiration for our range of bars in the outdoors. This is reflected in the flavours we work with and the design of our wrappers.
Can you tell us a little bit about your products?
We start with fine Belgian Chocolate and add herbs, spices and essential oils. Our very first bar was Rose Milk Chocolate. We now have up to 14 flavours available. We work with different base chocolates, so whether you love white chocolate or a dark 75% singe origin chocolate, I hope there is a bar for everyone.
Is your chocolate best savoured alone or can it be used in cooking and if so do you have a favourite recipe?
Both!! I love to have a quiet few minutes with a mug of tea and a square or two of chocolate but our chocolate is perfect for creating a wicked dessert. You will find a lavender chocolate mousse recipe in the Made in Herefordshire cookbook and my two boys are very fond of grating half a bar and making hot chocolate (with cream and marshmallows of course!).
If you could advise consumers why they should buy your products over mass-produced counterparts what would you tell them?
Chocolate should be a treat and I think it is always better to opt for quality over quantity. The levels of sugar and the addition of vegetable fat, especially palm oil and shea butter, in some of the big brands help keep their prices down but are reflected in the taste. Our milk chocolate has a higher cocoa content than some dark chocolate you will find in the supermarket. Though I must add if you seek them out, there are some really good chocolate products to be found on the supermarket shelves too.
Where can the people of Herefordshire buy your products?
The Nest near Ledbury, Truffles Deli in Ross on Wye and Oakchurch Farm Shop in Staunton on Wye usually have a good selection of our bars.
Which other Herefordshire food growers, makers or sellers do you admire and why?
We have some real food heroes in The Shire, I attended a talk Tom Oliver (of Oliver’s Cider & Perry) did just before we launched our range of bars, and he was a real inspiration. I have to admit to be being a fan of his Cider and Perry too!
Someone else who is sure to inspire is Rayessa Asghar-Sandys (of Spiced by Rayessa). Her Indian Cooking School goes from strength to strength and she is doing great things with her range of frozen cooking sauces — you can’t help but admire her energy and commitment.
Finally, what’s next for you in 2017?
We will be going back to our roots and extending our range of fresh cream truffles. There will be a couple of new bars but most of the hard work will be behind the scenes this year. We are building a new office and are looking to increase the number of independent farm shops, delis and garden centres that stock our bars. You’re unlikely to see us at many food festivals this year as I am determined to spend more time with my young family but I am sure I won’t be able to stay away for long.
So there we have it, a great insight into one of Herefordshire’s artisan makers and some great recommendations too — thank you Sue. If you have been inspired to find out more or want to but some of Sue’s lovely bars head over to www.suegilmour.co.uk.
If you would like to feature in a future Meet the Maker series, please do get in touch, I want to hear from you to and shout about what it is you do, email me at EdibleHerefordshireAtGmail.com or tweet me using the link below.