The next Juliette Binoche

AliciaRope

Winner of 4 Awards in 2011 at the Academy of Chocolate

It is indeed a lively brunette, though not the star of “Chocolat”, sitting next to me who starts unspooling at a staccato beat the thread of her professional life from the various alimentary jobs she held up to the key moment when she decided to pursue a career in chocolate. Amelia Rope has always been a food lover but as the years passed, she developed a growing interest in food sourcing, checking out labels and making the connection between food consumption and obesity. Frustrated with her professional life, she applied to go on the MasterChef programme, got picked, did not win but was noticed by John Torode, the BBC television show’s presenter, who told her that she should pursue a career in food.

Chocolate bundlesAmelia decided to go on a five-day class at Valrhona École du Grand Chocolat that changed the course of her life. She gathered all her savings and with the fierce determination that characterises her, she never looked back. Admittedly, Amelia Rope is no master chocolatier. She has never had the time nor the money to go on a specialised training but what she may lack in credentials, she easily makes up for in practice and passion. She is also very grateful to the people who pointed her in the right direction and gave her a lucky break. William Sitwell, the food editor, is one of them. She met him with the intention of asking about how to become a food writer but she brought along homemade truffles made with mint from her mother’s garden. Hence, the famous quote: “Forget journalism, you are the next Juliette Binoche”. Subsequently, she set up her business in 2007 and started elaborating on a crystallised rose petal delicately dipped in chocolate with a gold leaf that won her rave reviews and the attention of all the major media. But in November 2009, with the big order from entrepreneurial friend, Pat Reeves (Sofa.com), her business sprung to a whole new level. Amelia had 6 weeks to make a thousand chocolate bars from the recipe concept to the design and packaging. Being someone who won’t be defeated so easily, she rose up to the challenge and chocolate bars have since become a staple of her business. Encouraged by her recent success, she presented her chocolates to Ewan Venters, foodie lover and then, incidentally, executive director for food at Selfridges, who made them a regular fixture in the temple of food. Amelia Rope’s luxury flavoured chocolate bars are also available at Liberty, Wholefoods and all the respected épiceries fines. As the new chief executive at luxury food emporium, Fortnum & Mason, Ewan Venters is making sure that her chocolate will soon be available there too.

lime&seasalt

A chocolatier who is hot on quality, taste, purity, with a hint of luxury & smidgeon of creativity

Her chocolate are presented as chocolate bars or boxed chocolate cubes. She offers plain chocolate bars. As for the flavoured one, they range from mandarin and lemon to ginger. Lime & sea-salt and rose are two of her best sellers. Mint and hazelnuts are also available and smoked cashew nuts, a favourite of mine, is only available on order online. Just as she will always use pure essences for the flavouring of her chocolate (a skill that she learnt when she trained as an aromatherapist), she will never compromise on the quality of the cocoa beans she uses. She has plans to become a global brand but never in a mass market way because she always wants to be able to control the quality of her products. In fact, from the concept to the end product, her chocolate bars are her brain child. In the first six month of her venture, she is known to have wrapped individually  every single one of them. Amelia is sensible to colours, their vibrancy and energy. Artist Ellen Mary Rope‘s stained glass windows feed her imagination and creative shops such as Anthropologie are a great source of inspiration too.

Chocolate CubesAmelia is adamant about helping support English artists and artisans. With the exception of the paper foil that wraps her chocolate bars originating in Italy, everything else is made in England including her ribbons that come from the gorgeous V V Rouleaux boutique. Just as she is proud to be part of the small and innovative businesses that are as Anthony Hilton puts it “the lifeblood of the economy” of this country, she is a great supporter of the successful independent businesses, boutiques and shops that fill the streets of her neighbourhood. She lived for a while in Brixton but recently settled in Pimlico where she relishes eating at the Moroccan place, Khallouk & Taylor or the tapas place, Goya and drinks the delicious coffee from Pimlico Fresh.  There is also, Deli Delizie d’ Italia, the Italian delicatessen that she raves on about and there is nothing more that she enjoys than the bustling activity of the Tachbrook street market.

I don’t know if her enthusiasm and great energy derives from chocolate fuel or simply from having found her true calling but she certainly burst with communicative energy. Amelia has great plans for the future: a Chocolate Education Foundation for under privileged children, a cocoa plantation parcel just for her needs in the Brazilian outbacks and a bigger kitchen so that she can confection her recipes in her own home. But for the moment, she rejoices in having a home, at last, having lived off a suitcase for the last 5 years, at one point having moved 15 times in 15 months! And ô, she can’t wait getting started on her herbal garden. No doubt great new flavoured chocolate will come  out of it.

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