Meet The Maker - Wicked & Wonderful
Ben Axford has chocolate running through his veins. He spent most of his childhood growing up in Brussels and raiding his parents' stash of luxury chocolate. But a law degree, headhunting, a cheese & wine business, and getting to the final of Masterchef all came before he finally decided to stop pinching other people's chocolate and make some of his own!
Tell us a few words about the launching of your business.
I'd been making chocolates as part of the petit fours for my private dining meals, a friend tasted them and said I really had to start selling them. I returned to Brussels, did a lot of research and came back to the UK to develop the range. 12 months later launched the company
How did you come up with the name of your business?
It encapsulates everything chocolate is to people in two words.
Tell us a bit about your ingredients and how you source them.
We mainly use fairer than fair trade chocolate from North West Madagascar.
One of our recent collaborations was with Sibling Distillery. They used to be just down the road from us and they asked me to make some chocolates for their launch event. The collaboration was so successful that it all went from there.
What is your favourite product from your range and why?
Describe a typical day.
No day is typical for a small business owner, I can be working on anything from making, packaging, legal, putting together a quote for bespoke work, to planning new recipes and ranges.
What part of your job do you enjoy the most and why?
Creating new flavours is my favourite part, it's when I feel most alive. The inspiration can come from anywhere, sometimes I just wake up and there’s an idea in my head, sometimes it might be a perfume I’ve smelt, a cocktail I’ve drunk or dessert I’ve eaten. Once the idea is there I start imagining how those flavours might work and narrow down a few different types of chocolates I feel could work in the ganache. From there it’s trial and error.
One I developed for our Winter 2017 Collection was called Fireside – it was supposed to evoke the feeling of sitting by an open wood fire sipping brandy. I took Lapsang Souchong tea for the smokiness and paired it with a single origin milk chocolate that had unusually some smokey notes in it, I added a Muscovado caramel for the richness and finally an apple brandy for a fruity brandy note.
What have been some memorable business challenges along the way?
Packaging - it's the biggest nightmare, and can be costly if not done right. I think I've become just as much as expert on packaging as I have on chocolate.
mouth-watering to share?