Geri Martin, Chief Chocolatier at The Chocolate Manor chats to International Confectionery about her personal passion for working in the chocolate industry
What attracted you to this industry?
I used to be a Public Relations Officer and had the chance to visit Worldskills, when it came to London in 2011, as part of my job. Every day, I would find myself back in the confectionery/pastry area, in awe of the talented young people creating stunning delights. I then signed up to a 10-week chocolate skills course, in 2012, because I had been inspired by the Worldskills competitors; and if I’m honest, I was, and still am, a chocoholic! I did spend a considerable amount of time in the first few weeks sneaking into the corner of the kitchen to enjoy all the different chocolates we were learning to make!
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
I have two – they happened within weeks of each other in 2022. In September, we were approached by the Northern Ireland Office to create a selection of chocolates to be presented to King Charles III as he visited Northern Ireland for the first time as monarch. Our chocolate truffles were presented inside a special tin created by Art on a Tin, by a young schoolboy, just after the King landed in Belfast – and was shown across the world on TV! We were honoured to be selected to create something special to represent NI on this momentous occasion.
Just two weeks later we were named Best Food and Drink Experience in NI at The Giant Spirit Awards – we love sharing our passion for chocolate with visitors from across the globe, so to receive this award was a very proud moment for us.
What’s your favourite kind of chocolate?
That’s like asking who my favourite child is, and I must politely say I don’t have a favourite! We do make a rhubarb and custard crème that I absolutely adore (my team know I’ll always take any broken ones of those home!) and I am very partial to anything with lime too!
What’s your favourite part of your job?
I love running the chocolate experiences – every single workshop is different, and I get to meet people who love chocolate almost as much as I do. Chocolate is like a universal language, and it’s amazing how little the public know about where chocolate comes from, or how to work with it. It’s such a joy to watch our guests tap their chocolates from their moulds, delighted with their creations.
(My second favourite part of the job is taking home the broken truffles and crèmes)
What is a skill you would like to learn?
I think working with chocolate there is always something new to learn and I’d love to develop showpiece skills – I may have made a 4ft Statue of Liberty, and successfully delivered it to my client, but it was very challenging…
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