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Chocolatier goes outside the mould

A Riversdale chocolate maker has been thrust into the national spotlight after winning a coveted national award.
“This is my 10th interview in 24 hours,” Lucid Chocolatier creator Johnty Tatham said.
His winning creation Lucid Chocolatier 68 per cent Port took the 2022 title against 150 New Zealand-made chocolates from 31 chocolate-makers judged earlier this month.
Tatham’s winning bar was made with nibs from Maranon cacao beans submerged in a 10-year-old Taylor’s Tawny Port. The judges said the chocolate had outstanding aroma notes and flavour and complexity.
The chocolate also won the Bean-to-Bar Flavoured category and his Bean-to-Bar Lucid Chocolatier 72 per cent Santiago De Sisa won the Bean-to-Bar plain category.
The chocolatier also took out 14 medals, seven gold, four silver and three bronze.
Tatham said as a new company, the awards were a welcome stamp of approval.
“To receive praise from people, I don’t think I’ve been more motivated.
“We’re absolutely stoked. We’re already sold out of our chocolate, so we need to increase production.
“I’ve spent two years living by myself; to get this breakthrough is huge.”
The former Whareama School student got his taste for chocolate making in 2019 while living in Auckland.
“I bought the chocolate-making kit and started trying a few things out.”
The 25-year-old has had a long interest in culinary arts; he wrote a recipe aged 7, and cooked family meals throughout his youth.
He moved back to his family farm Homewood Farm – south of Riversdale – to start his business in 2020. He’s been working out of the house he grew up in, before the chocolate was put on the market two years ago.
Designing new flavours can be a long process. He said he could spend a lot of time designing a flavour to get the right taste.
“We’ve sold 20 different bars, but made 70 flavours didn’t make the cut. It takes a lot of time, and flavours are dependent on a lot of factors.
“There’s quite a few months of testing, right strength of infusion. For the port flavour, the nibs have to soak in port for over a month. “
He likened the craft chocolate industry to craft beer.
Just a few years ago, there were only a few big companies, only a few options, but then brewers started taking it into different areas. I saw chocolate was also bending that way, into an emerging business.”
Tatham sought feedback on his business pathway.
“I spoke to chocolate makers about whether there was room for new businesses in this field.
“My godfather is very business savvy, I’ve come to him with all my queries. I’ve been lucky to have a good support network.”

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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