To celebrate National Chocolate Day we sent brand new reporter Thomas Bamford out in the field - to a rather tasty assignment.
Thomas met up with chief chocolatiere of Rumsey’s Handmade Chocolates and proprieter Nigel Rumsey, to hear the story of one of Buckinghamshire’s favourite chocolate shops.
Sourcing the finest materials from all over the globe, Rumsey’s brings a taste of the global to the villages of Wendover and Thame.
The dark chocolate contains cocoa beans sourced from Madagascar, Cuba and Tanzania, while the milk chocolate is sourced from the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Nigel said: “We use a high quality Belgian chocolate as our standard chocolate for everyday use. Over the past few years however, we have stepped up in quality. We now make our own chocolate mixed here in store.”
Thirty years experience as a Chef and Patissier has provided the inspiration and depth of knowledge needed to become a Master Chocolatier of distinction. Nigel has travelled from London to Paris and Geneva in order to perfect his skills and learn the secrets of the gourmet chocolate makers of Europe.
Nigel told us the story of how he got into making chocolate: “Originally I started a pastry chef 20 years ago when I was working in New College at the University in Oxford.”
“One of my colleagues asked me if I could do some chocolates as presents for his family. I thought yeah I will give it a go – I also decided to give some to my family.”
“My sister in law was straight in and asked if she could have some to sell in her hairdressing salon and the feedback from that was incredible! So we decided to go to a craft fair and try and sell some just to make a few bob. The feedback was really really good and then it just snowballed, and here we are!”
Their first shop opened 12 years ago in Wendover, on Valentines day – just a romantic coincidence says Nigel.
Asked about his inspiration, he said: “I usually play it by mouth! I will decide what we make in the week, sometimes I will remember flavours we have used in the past and decide to go with it or add a unique twist. Sometimes the flavours come to me in dreams.”
“Occasionally I have woken up in the night and thought of combinations I will try, just working things out playing with flavours and textures.”
Nigel revealed to us the composition of his new chocolate mix: “Our new dark chocolate is nice and fruity, the milk chocolate has less sugar in and a higher cocoa content, a little bit darker in colour but it’s still milk.
“These days people are more health conscious, at the moment people want milk chocolate with less sugar and more cocoa, but we are always looking for different textures and flavour combinations – I’m trying to think of ideas with roasted brazil nuts, pineapple. To mix it up and give people a taste experience.”
When asked how he resisted the temptation of all this chocolate, he answered: “I try not to eat so much! Maybe one bit a day but I have to say it’s very tempting. I often have to slap my wrists.”
“I try to stick to dark chocolate. It’s when you start adding butter and cream when it gets a bit naughty. Everything in moderation! At the end of the day, it’s a treat, people come here to treat themselves. Sometimes you just have to go for it.”
Rumsey’s now provides about 40 varieties of chocolates, many of which are seasonal. Provenance is something taken as seriously as their chocolate: “We wanted to use fresh, local produce and support local businesses where possible,” explains Nigel. We use a local dairy farm called Lacey’s in High Wycombe, and our eggs and meat are sourced locally, too.”
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