Want to know what it’s like to have the dreamiest job ever? We caught up with Lady Chocolate Master Chocolatier Kirsty Ford.
The 31-year-old, who heads up the brand’s Portsmouth kitchen, has been in the business for years. Here are her top tips for making a success of your chocolate-making career.
1. How did you know you wanted to be a chocolatier?
I have worked in catering most of my life and when I was presented with the opportunity to become part of the team at Lady Chocolate I was so excited. It wasnt until I started learning in the kitchen that I became passionate about producing great chocolates.
2. How did you get started?
I was lucky enough to be head hunted and trained by our shareholders, it started off as helping out and now I am our head chocolatier!
3. What’s been the most important moment in your career so far?
Probably last Christmas, we ran a campaign with Wowcher and we had so many orders from them plus our normal customer orders to fulfill. It was the most important moment for me so far because it was under this pressure that the team really cemented and the management really looked after everyone as well as mucking in. It was at that time that I realised this is a growing company that values each team member and I want to be part of that long term.
4. Talk us through your day…
A typical day starts with checking the order schedule. We have a team call in the morning so everyone knows what’s going on and our goals for the day/week. It gives us all the opportunity to query anything which is fantastic. Then I get on and create chocolates. While everything is setting, I prep the packaging and make sure all the labels are correct for each chocolate. Once all the chocolates are set they are packaged and then I pack for shipping the next morning.
Sign up for the newsletter
Get news, competitions and special offers direct to your inbox
5. What are the best things about doing what you do?
I absolutely love how involved we get our customers and associates in our product development. Nothing beats the feeling when I see customer feedback, especially from the dairy/gluten/soya-free customers. They are always telling us what they want. It’s great to be part of a company that listens to their customers because at the end of the day I can make chocolates all day long but there is more chance of customers buying it if it’s what they are asking for.
6. What are the worst?
There isn’t anything bad about making chocolate for a living! I am part of an amazing team too. I do wish HQ would come back to Portsmouth but at the same time it presents fantastic opportunities for me to progress the business relations off my own back and develop my own skills.
7. What do you think people don’t realise about your job?
It’s more what people don’t realise about chocolate in general. The majority of mass produced chocolate on the market has a very low cocoa content, it was a shock to me when I first started working. Our chocolates are all handmade by an actual chocolatier like myself. We don’t just press a button and the chocolate comes off a production line.
8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Stay calm in chocolate matters.
9. What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the industry?
Find something that separates your chocolate products from everything else……for the team here it’s Edible Candles.
10. Have you ever had a moment of self-doubt? What happened and how do you get through those?
Not really, I occasionally question why we do things a certain way but its always welcomed and explained, plus we are a really open team so all suggestions for improvements are taken seriously.
11. What would you say to your 15-year-old self?
Get better grades and concentrate more at school.
12. What are your career goals?
My plan is to stay at Lady Chocolate and progress within the company. I’ve already been asked to help set up and run the first retail shop but it will be in Peterborough so may not be viable due to family commitments, but the team are understanding of that and we have plans in place for me to progress. I am really excited about running all the kitchens in the future and developing our D/G/S-free collections too because it makes such a difference to peoples lives if they are allergic.