Melt Chocolates are unique. It isn’t just the flavour (although I do always say they have to be tasted to justify the cost – I pop one in my mouth while I’m paying, it helps enormously), but that they are the chocolatiers who are willing to push the envelope on what we accept as a sweet, without compromising on freshness and taste. They offer treats with accents which just shouldn’t work, but somehow do (think green tea, peppercorn and chilli). Try their sea-salted chocolates – they were an instant classic.
The other thing which sets Melt apart from other chocolatiers is their willingness to go out on a limb for their customers. If you want a huge sweet button with your sweetheart’s name on it – no problem. They will do it, and do it jolly well.
I grilled head chocolatier Chika Watanabe to get the inside story on confectionary from my favourite chocolate shop…
MF: Melt stock with some pretty bizarre flavours – how do you come up with them?
CW: I’m always experimenting in the kitchen, trying to find new combinations. For example, at the moment we have collaboration with Jing Tea and I’ve used their mint, rose and earl grey tea. I also like to match flavours to the seasons and events – we currently have special products for the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics.
MF: Are ethically sourced ingredients important to Melt?
CW: I do my best to make sure that all our products are ethically sourced. We talk to our suppliers and purchase from the best source we can find.
MF: Which chocolates would you recommend to someone new to Melt?
CW: Everyone’s favourites are salted praline and sea salt caramel bonbons, so that would be a good place to start.
MF: How did you end up in this job, and what do you think the key skills are to success as a chocolatier?
CW: I used to work in a bank in Japan, but packed it all in to follow my dreams and move to London. I studied at the Cordon Blue Institute to become a Chocolatier. After many years as the Pastry Chef at the Claridge’s and then the Lanesborough and Carlton Tower Hotel, I moved to Melt to become the Head Chocolatier. Attention to quality and creativity are the most important skills I think I bring to my work.
MF: What is it that Melt chocolates offer that other chocolates don’t?
CW: While other companies make their chocolate in a large quantity, with mass production in a big factories, all our chocolate is handmade by 4 chocolatiers, so our chocolate is always fresh. Our dedicated London kitchen are also always finding new ways to innovate and create.
MF: Why is the freshness of chocolate important?
CW: Freshness is vital to the taste. Only small production can ensure chocolates which taste really good.
MF: You continue to experiment with different chocolate products from body paint to hot chocolate sticks to melt in your drink – what else is in the pipeline?
CW: We are always experimenting and playing with new products, and these are different with each season. We also listen to customer feedback and change our chocolates accordingly – this is why so many people are loyal to Melt, and come back year after year. I’m now working on a product which no one else has made yet… but it is a secret, for now.