Let’s All Do The Cocoa Dance
Set on the boundary between the Dark peak and the White peak areas; beneath Mam Tor, known locally as the ‘shivering mountain’; overlooking the tiny village of Castleton, the romantic setting of Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Peveril of the Peak’, is the best kept secret in the chocolate business.
David Golubows, 44, and Bridget Joyce, 48, a couple of 21 years, are in no way your average confectioners. They simply woke up one morning and thought, “shall we start making chocolates?” As you do. Now eleven years on this does not sound like such a crazy idea.
David and Joyce’s company, Cocoa Dance, makes chocolates for exclusive outlets such as Harrods, Harvey Nicholls, Selfridges, Liberty of London, Hamley’s Toy Shop and the BAFTAs.
Such cliental is all the more impressive considering neither have any training or experience in the art of chocolate making. Rather, armed with a stove, a thermometer and a 1940s manual from the library, the couple set themselves up in a National Trust farm and got to grips with chocolate.
The pair make all the chocolates themselves, without the help of any additional staff and they even do their own packaging. This is remarkable considering tonnes of chocolate can be produced in one week.
So how do they make so much chocolate?
David and Bridget are self confessed work and chocoholics. They usually work ten hours a day, seven days a week. This can go up to sixteen hours a day during their busiest periods, Christmas and Valentines Day. David recalls a time when he watched TV and read newspapers. Now he can’t keep himself out of his workshop, “It’s hardly a chore, food and chocolate are my passion,” said David.
Happy ever after
The name ‘Cocoa Dance’ refers to a ritual dance performed by women in some cocoa growing regions, where they shuffle through the cocoa beans with their bare feet to continually turn them. This helps to clean the beans and dry evenly.
David and Bridget haven’t always had their dream jobs. Bridget previously worked as an interior designer and David has had ‘every job under the sun’. These have ranged from picking bananas in Israel to putting stickers on coat hangers. Both agree that making chocolate is the first time they have been able to sink their teeth into what they are doing. Quite literally.
Their chocolates range from banoffee truffles, to salted caramels, to strawberry daiquiri truffles, to chilli lips. All of these varieties of chocolates are firmly rooted in the Derbyshire peaks around them. Milk and cream is sourced from the Peak District dairy and water comes from the Buxton spa.
“When you live in a rural area, you have to put back into the community’ said David.
In spring, the couple scour the farm’s hedgerows for nettles and elderflowers, and “people give excess rhubarb to the postman to bring to us in his van” said David. In autumn they are out again, foraging for sloes, rowans and blackberries. Within hours the collected plants are transformed into original chocolate fillings.
Although Cocoa Dance’s chocolates are sold in big London stores, the company has established a local cliental too. The highlight of their month is the farmer’s market in Bakewell, where queues for their chocolates are always long. “People love the idea that many of the chocolates ingredients are local and fresh,” said David.
Reforming the chocolate business
“A decade ago, pretty much the only chocolate people had heard of was Cadbury’s and if you wanted some of the posh stuff, there was very limited choice,” said David. “Today there are about ten types to choose from and there are dozens of small-scale chocolate companies around the country.”
Cocoa Dance doesn’t just make chocolate, they also offer a range of activities. Their ‘chocolate experience’ is one of the most popular. This involves three-and-a-half hours of chocolate tasting, wine drinking and chocolate making. A similar experience is provided for children, minus the wine, of course.