Back in January I visited The Scottish Speciality Food Show on a quest to discover new and wonderful independent food producers with the hope of recruiting a few that would answer '5 Questions' for me. One of the producers that I managed to catch up with was Jamie Hutcheon, the Director Chocolatier of Aberdeen based Cocoa Ooze, and creator of the most amazing luxury handmade chocolates. As it turned out, running a successful business got in the way of Jamie and my '5 Questions', but after a more recent visit to The Ideal Home Show Scotland I managed to catch up with the team from Cocoa Ooze once again.
So at the second time of asking, here's Jamie's story;
How did you get started?
I used all the skills I’d learned to experiment with different ingredients and techniques, using old family recipes as a guide, and soon word grew of my new venture.
I developed a business plan with help from Business Gateway and PTYBS to get things off the ground. The initial plan was to run the business part-time with the view of going full-time 2 years later. However, within 18 months, I was ready to leave the security of full-time employment and focus solely on the business.
The business soon outgrew my mother’s kitchen and in 2011, I opened my first Chocolate/Coffee Shop in Peterculter. Less than two years later, in July 2013, following the success of our first premises, my team and I transformed an empty building within the centre of Aberdeen into two storeys of chocolate heaven.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
The best piece of advice I have received and what I regularly tell my staff is to ask questions. I have always been advised to always stay curious. This attitude has allowed me to constantly identify opportunities for by business. When it comes to owning a business, there is no time to be idle and I am always on the lookout for ways to keep my company one step ahead.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
Cocoa Ooze has grown so rapidly in the past 5 years and surpassed my expectations in so many ways that it is impossible to really tell where we will be in 5 years. However my aim is to continue to develop and improve our products and services and increase the number of premises we have across the UK.
My passion for making chocolates for customers to enjoy has never faltered and I look forward to continue trialling different recipes over the years to come.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
I think it would have to be milk chocolate honeycomb bars, purely because it is still my absolute favourite! People think I would get bored of chocolate, but I’m still a chocaholic!
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
My family – there is no way I could narrow it down to one of them and I would definitely be in charge of the cooking! I have a sweet tooth so the main event would be dessert! I would make homemade chocolate ice cream with our milk chocolate buttons swirled through it and topped with our white chocolate and raspberry popping candy because I’m a big kid at heart!
So whether it be a little sweet treat for yourself, a gift for someone special, or maybe a unique corporate gift, you can be sure that Jamie and his team will have something that suits everyone. Or how about trying your hand at creating your own chocolate works of art by enrolling on one of the 'Chocolate Making Workshops' that are held regularly at the Peterculter branch?
All Cocoa Ooze chocolates are produced and packaged by hand to ensure the best possible quality. To treat yourself to some Cocoa Ooze goodies, check out their online shop or visit one of their stockists throughout the UK. Even better, They also serve a delicious chocolate afternoon tea on Friday - Sunday between 1.30 - 4.30pm. The price is £11.50 per person and includes a hot drink, sandwiches, cakes, scones and truffles. Bookings can be made on 01224 467212.
Pop in for your own piece of chocolate heaven.Keep up to date with Cocoa Ooze on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.