Renowned for unparalleled taste and quality, we’re thrilled to welcome luxury chocolatier Hotel Chocolat to QVC. The luxury brand is one of the few in the industry to also grow their own cocoa, with a plantation in Saint Lucia: ‘This has allowed us to get really close to the cocoa bean,’ co-founder Angus Thirlwell explains, ‘and see its incredible potential, we eschew sugar in favour of cocoa. Ever since the beginning, our mantra has been: more cocoa, less sugar.’
This incredibly high standard has led the brand to offer a huge variety of delectable treats for any occasion, from after-dinner coffee to special occasion gifts. ‘We’re immensely proud to have curated a chocolate portfolio that has something for everyone,’ Angus says, ‘even people who are impossible to buy for.’
Their team are always looking for new flavours and ideas, Angus recalls: ‘one of our best chocolates, the Mint Royale, actually came from one of our Tasting Club members. He entered a hand-drawn sketch into our annual ‘Create a Chocolate’ competition. It has gone on to be more highly rated than some of our bestsellers and has also won a prestigious award at the Academy of Chocolate.’
‘We’re always on the hunt for new ideas. They can come from anywhere: travels, colours, smells… the list is endless. The hardest part is working out which ideas are the best. Our chocolatiers are constantly working on new recipes and using their technical artistry to convert our – often madcap – ideas into chocolate.’
It’s clear the brand enjoy playing with iconic flavour combinations we all know and love, for example in cocktails and cakes, and turning them into bite-sized pieces of chocolate heaven.
‘We’ve had a good run with recipes like carrot cake, banana bread and pecan brownies – which are now bestsellers. I wonder what an Eccles cake would be like? All those raisins…’
Well, we’re sure an Eccles cake-inspired truffle whipped up the Hotel Chocolat way would get our vote! Especially if they conjure up one of their signature, stunning designs.
The range simply looks as fantastic as it tastes. From a subtle dusting of cocoa to delicate freeze-dried berries, their exquisite truffles are true works of art. ‘The shape of the chocolate is linked to the flavour,’ Angus explains, ‘for instance the cocoa notes and the type of chocolate. Big, bold flavours do well in small houses.’
‘Take our beautifully piquant Blackberry Bombes, the tart, punchy flavour is best suited to our mini truffle moulds. Our elegant solid batons, on the other hand, are designed to be snapped and savoured. Their shape perfectly showcases the tasting notes of all of our chocolate grades.’
We could hear about chocolate all day. To learn more about Angus himself, we turned to our trusty QVC Quickfire questions…
What’s your full name?
How can we find you on social media?
@angusthirlwell on Twitter.
Do you have any nicknames?
What was your first job?
Working in a vineyard in France, picking grapes to make champagne.
If you weren’t in your current profession, what do you think you would be doing instead?
I’ve always loved the idea of being a film producer. I would make thrillers with chocolate playing a role in one of the key scenes.
Where have you visited in your life that took your breath away?
There’s a remote bay near our cocoa estate that is the most beautiful place I know. The mountain reaches down to the coast, with deep and (somehow) soft seawater that’s really special to swim in.
What’s the one achievement you’re most proud of?
Setting up our Engaged Ethics scheme out in Saint Lucia which enables cocoa farmers to live sustainably and feel secure about their futures.
Who would you be most star-struck to meet in real life?
When Prince Charles came to visit our cocoa estate I thought I would be, but I wasn’t because he was so naturally interested in our Engaged Ethics project that we talked for a long time.
What are your top tips for realising your goals in business?
Surround yourself with the right people. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Listen to your customers.
If you could travel back in time, which era would you visit and what would you do?
It would be amazing to drop into London in the 1700s and see the 700 chocolate houses which were in business then; serving a drink similar to our 100% Hot Chocolat to poets, playwrights, politicians and courtiers.
Join our Hotel Chocolat hour at 5pm on Thursday 28th September