We had the privilege of meeting Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, the recently deceased founder of the Academy of Chocolate, just once. Naz was speaking alongside her at the 2019 Annual Eti Oni dinner in London. It was our first experience of such an event. The venue, Sofitel Hotel, St James was vey swanky and we were extremely nervous.
Sara Jayne immediately put us at our ease, sampling the bars we had with us and eventually purchasing six of them. It was a small example of the warmness, openness and pure enthusiasm that first attracted us to making chocolate.
Sara Jayne’s speech that evening provided a glimpse of the artisan industry in earlier times. When, alongside Dame Chantal Coady and others, she laid the foundation for an alternative perception of chocolate than as a mass produced commodity.
Artisan chocolate is now high profile with makers and chocolatiers regularly featured on TV and in newspapers. The Academy hosts a global competition (did I mention one of our bars won an award last year) and it’s widely recognised status is hopefully a fitting legacy. As one of the its beneficiaries, we definitely owe her a debt of gratitude.