Where to buy Wood Row Chocolate
1:00 p.m. March 16, 2022
It’s safe to say that the past two years have changed the food and beverage industry dramatically. Some leaders have left the company. Restaurants have closed. New restaurants have opened in their place. And a whole host of new ventures have been started by kitchen and reception staff who suddenly find themselves rudderless in a locked down world.
For Diss’ Simon Woodrow, who just launched Wood Row Chocolate with partner Jessie Forbes, 2020 and 2021 have been a wake-up call.
Simon led the kitchen team at the multi-award-winning Leaping Hare in Stanton, having worked at the vineyard restaurant for nearly 20 years, rising through the ranks from pot washer to head chef.
Jessie also had 16 years under her belt at Wyken.
“We are part of the furniture,” jokes Simon who says that after the first lockdown he went back to work and thought everything would be fine. But there were more restrictions to follow and unfortunately family members were lost.
“It made me reevaluate my priorities,” says Simon. “I had sacrificed a lot of time in the kitchen when I could have spent it with my family. I wanted to get away from that. »
Not one to sit on his hands, Simon started experimenting in his kitchen at home and found a love for chocolate making.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to try. I’ve always wondered how chocolatiers get such exquisite designs on candies. Being in confinement, I had no one to ask. I searched the internet for answers and got stuck. [chocolate making] attracted me more and more as I progressed and I found it really relaxing. A cathartic process from start to finish.
While there were, admittedly, a few disasters along the way, Simon was happy enough with the end results this year that he and Jessie decided to start their own artisan chocolate business, building a dedicated chocolate kitchen in their home. and register to sell at the Wyken Farmers’ Market on the first and fourth weekend of each month. Boxes have also been released on her Wood_Row_Chocolate Instagram account for local delivery. And you can order by emailing [email protected]
Their first market didn’t quite go to plan. “It was terrible weather – usually the market was hectic, but I think everyone decided to stay home,” Simon recalled, adding that they still managed to sell many sweets, including dulce de leche miso brownies, filled chocolate bars and dark chocolate. slabs.
At the heart of Wood Row Chocolate, however, are bright, beautifully decorated candies, made with Callebaut and Cacao Barry chocolate, and high-quality toppings backed by the chef’s expertise.
“I was committed to buying the best ingredients from day one,” says Simon. “It’s about making something really delicious that people will enjoy. I’ve always worked like that in restaurants too. If you want to do something, make it the best you can.
The first chocolate Simon was happy with was his Three Layer Passion Fruit Cheesecake, and a variation of that will still be available from Wood Row. “It made me discover what was possible and how many flavors you could fit into a chocolate. I add a passion fruit pâté de fruit, a cream cheese and vanilla ganache, and a base cookies made from powdered cookies with chocolate and cocoa butter for a bit of crunch.
“And the passion fruit and mango marshmallow filling was interesting. I had to learn how to make marshmallow without egg white to help with shelf life, and it was paired with passion fruit and mango ganache.
The rest of the menu reads like a dessert lover’s dream. Dulce de leche swirled with espresso. Blood orange cheesecake. Crispy cocoa nibs with hazelnut gianduja. Baked apple pie (baked apple fruit pâté with honey and cinnamon ganache). And another that took Simon by surprise.
“It’s an apricot fruit pâté with a layer of pistachio and crispy cocoa and honey with a cinnamon ganache on top. The taste is almost like a baklava. I thought it would be unusual, but it works.
While Simon shapes the chocolates, the business has also allowed Jessie to show her creative side. “She’s very arty,” says Simon. “For example, she designed our logo and even pyrographed it on our wooden displays and signs. It looks great.”
You can find Wood Row Chocolate at Wyken Farmers’ Market on March 26.
For now, the couple, says Simon, are keeping the business small and simple, to ensure excellence in everything they do. “We want it to be humble. We are not looking to change the world. It’s just a great chance for us to do something creative. I can’t wait to see where this will take us.