It's Easter, and World Chocolate Gold Award winner Paul A Young has picked a good time to start his first chocolaterie and chocolate pâtisserie. He spoke to Emily Manson about his new shop in London's Camden Passage
How did your passion for chocolate begin? I was a pâtisserie chef for years at Criterion, Titanic and Quo Vadis in London but decided to leave and do my own thing. I did a bit of TV work and developed products for Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer's for a while, then someone asked me to make some chocolates for a promotion - and they sold out. That was three years ago, so I guess I'm an accidental chocolatier.
What did you learn from Marco Pierre White's restaurants? All my pâtisserie skills. The pastry chef, Roger Pizey, taught me discipline, attention to detail and to work hard. I didn't mind the work, as it was a dream job, but it was about more than that. It's about being meticulously correct every time, which is the really difficult bit.
What's your most bizarre chocolate? I use cedarwood and sandalwood and some fresh herbs like basil and geranium, but you have to match the right cocoa beans, and that can take lots of time and testing, which is always the best bit. I also do a rose petal and masala white chocolate bar with tiny bits of spice and actual petals in, which is lovely and interesting.
How do you come up with new ideas? I'll try most things if I think they might work and be credible. I don't like gimmicks. I've found basil works very well, and I like to push the barriers with alcohol, spices and herbs.
What flavours mix best with chocolate? It's an impossible question because everything potentially could. I play around a lot with things, and even do a Stilton ganache. The only things that don't go are garlic and fish - they're just horrid.
How did you come up with your award-winning sea-salted caramel? I go to Paris twice a year to see what new flavours are emerging, and found they were using a dash of salt. I didn't want my caramel to be too sweet, and the salt kills the sugar, so I developed the sea-salted caramel, which is a tangy toffee filling that was very soft, not even chewy, and is a very sexy, indulgent chocolate. I think it'll be our best-seller.
Why is chocolate so popular with women? Men choose beer or sport to enjoy a moment; women choose to spend a night in with a glass of wine and some nice chocolates. They find the taste sexy or sensual, whereas men only really buy them for occasions.
Do you prefer chocolate eggs or bunnies?
Definitely eggs - bunnies are scary, like clowns, and when they have coats and shoes they genuinely look frightening.