How I Made It: 'I'm a master chocolatier but I'm not a chocolate snob'

Welcome back to How I Made It, Metro.co.uk’s weekly career journey series.

Last week we looked at the heavy subject of mental health, but this time we’re visiting a pleasure in life: chocolate.

Paul A Young, a 48-year-old master chocolatier, has been perfecting his craft for nearly two decades.

Chocolate wasn’t the reason he initially got into food – he was actually a pastry chef for a time, but found himself drawn to something sweeter.

That led the Walthamstow dweller to set up his self-named shop in Islington, which established him as a known face in the chocolate world.

He eats the delicious treat daily – which is dreamy – and is always trying to invent new products.

Paul tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I’ve been able to share my skills on TV, I’ve written three books (with another on the way later this year), I’ve had recipes in magazines, I’ve worked in countries all over the world and I’ve worked with some incredible brands (recently with Baileys centred all around having your ‘cake’ and drink too).

‘This is all thanks to chocolate.’

This is how he made it.

Hey Paul. How long have been a chocolatier for? 

18 years, but I’ve always been in food, even before this.

It’s an incredible niche, so how did you get into this job? 

I co-launched my business and opened the first shop in April 2006.

I wanted to bring a new way of making and eating chocolates to the London scene and the UK – fresh, nothing artificial and made on the premises daily.

My time as head pastry chef for Marco Pierre White gave me the grounding and training to be able to understand the attention to detail and dedication required to go ahead and start my own business. 

Is it a hard industry to get into? 

It’s not the most common job, so if you are looking to join the industry then do lots of research into what area of chocolate and confectionery you want to work in.

I then recommend getting some work experience in the area you want to work in and get stuck in where you can – there are quite a few chocolate courses in the UK and around the world that can teach the fundamentals. 

Did you have to train? 

I’m 100% a self-taught chocolatier. I wanted to create a new style of chocolates and product development has always been at the heart of everything I do.

I practiced and practiced at any free moment I had, until I was confident I had a product that was good enough to sell and be enjoyed by customers.  

At what point did you think ‘this is the job for me’? Was there a lightbulb moment or person that inspired you? 

As my pastry career morphed into chocolate and I just kept being pulled into chocolate more and more over a few years.

I just knew I wanted to work in a space where I could be creative, with detail at the heart of everything I did. 

There wasn’t a lightbulb moment so to speak, but back in 2005 I won a gold award in the first ‘Academy of Chocolate Awards’ for my sea salted caramel.

This was the first sea salted caramel to get a gold award, when putting sea salt in caramel was really experimental.

This win along with some other gold and silver awards gave me the reassurance that I had something special to share with people. 

An average day in the working life of Paul A Young

6am: Paul wakes up to feed his dog and cat, then do some yoga. He is not naturally a morning person, so also spends time just generally ‘waking up’.

7.15am: Check emails and social media messages before leaving the house.

8am: Arrives at the shop and plans the day’s production. Paul will do his daily checks in the shop regarding making chocolates, customer orders and corporate orders.

12pm: He’ll try to make time to work on product development.

Paul recently collaborated with Baileys (Picture: Paul A Young)

1pm: Lunchtime.

1.45pm: Back to the kitchen, checking emails again as orders and requests come in all the time, so he’ll stay on top of it.

3pm: He will taste everything that’s made that day for quality control, then plan the next day’s production.

6.15pm: The workday is over.

What do you love most about your job? 

It’s super creative, it’s fun and makes lots of people very happy.

Even today, I still enjoy eating our chocolates alongside our customers and being able to enjoy my chocolates on a daily basis is a huge privilege.

Is there anything you don’t like? 

Chocolate snobbery.

Like what you like, enjoy everything that brings you joy, it doesn’t have to be a high percentage to be good but always read the label so you know what you are about to eat. 

How I Made It

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