Cleethorpes chocolatier satisfies the tastes of national critic ahead of Chocolate Week

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 5 Oct 2016

FURTHER national praise has been poured on Cleethorpes chocolatier Gerald ‘Duffy’ Sheardown, after his Honduras Mayan Red Milk variety was named in The Sunday Telegraph as one of the top six single-origin bars. 

The feature was published ahead of Chocolate Week, which starts on Monday and culminates with The Chocolate Show at London’s Olympia.

Writer Andrew Baker describe the £7.95 slab as “a little masterpiece from Duffy Sheardown, a genius in a shed in Cleethorpes”.

He’s actually producing in the slightly more industrial setting of Wilton Road, Humberston, but there’s sea salt in the business’s origin thanks to early ventures at his Bradford Avenue home. 

Originally from Scunthorpe, we last caught up with him before Easter, with a feature in the Cleethorpes People section of the Grimsby Telegraph. 

“To make the best chocolate you must use the best ingredients, it’s as simple as that,” Duffy told us.

Gerald earned his nickname, Duffy at school.

“I’ve always loved motor racing and years ago when I was unemployed, I used to go into WH Smith to read the F1 magazines,” he laughed.

“One day they caught me and I had to buy one, and on the back of the magazine was an advert for someone to work in the motor racing trade building cars.

“I had done some temporary work in Scunthorpe working with carbon fibre materials and everything was in its infancy.

“They were daft enough to employ me and eventually I was able to build my Red Star Racing Company.”

So how did the priority switch from petrol head to sweet tooth take place?

“I started making chocolate after hearing a Radio Four food programme that said ‘only Cadbury made chocolate from cocoa beans in the UK’,” he recalled.

“I was making racing cars at the time and thought ‘how hard can it be? I could do that’. I spent a year making small batches of chocolate at home as experiments and then rented a factory and started Duffy’s,” he said.

Walking into the small factory, it is hard to believe that it is the home of now world-renowned chocolate.

In 2011 his Honduras Indio Rojo bar won the prestigious Academy Of Chocolate Golden Bean award for the best bean-to-bar chocolate in the world.

“It’s what we do, it’s nice to get recognition,” he proudly said, with many awards and certificates, including the International Chocolate Awards 2015 earning a British Gold, award for his Duffy’s Nicaragua Oh Chuno! in the micro-batch plain/origin milk chocolate bars.

He had just finished roasting, the very best money can buy, Ecuador cocoa beans.

“We treat them as carefully as possible and try not to ruin them.

“The beans are lightly roasted, have the shells taken off and then they are granite ground for about 60 hours to drive off all the bitterness and to let all the natural flavours develop.

“Most of my dark bars are 72 per cent made up of components of the cocoa bean, those components being cocoa solids and cocoa fat, but they all taste completely different because all of the single origin beans are different.

“I have been to farms in Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica and work closely with the farmers.”

This grinding process takes around three days.

The chocolate is then put into bowls, batched with serial numbers and left to cool.

It’s then one day to mould the chocolate and a day to wrap, and this makes around 300 bars.

Duffy employs two staff who work four days a week between them, making sure of that hand-made and hand-wrapped taste.

Buying only the best ensures that Duffy produces only the best chocolate.

“We buy fair trade beans from Ecuador, Panama, Honduras and Venezuela.

“Really it’s a simple process,” added Duffy. “The trouble with tasting the best chocolate is that it spoils you when you have to have ordinary bars.

“We do go to some markets in York, London and Norwich and have tasting sessions for people,” he said

“At one market a lady came and tasted my chocolate and loved it and said ‘it’s nice but expensive’.

“I told her you have to pay for the best, but I also told her that the taste of chocolate in her mouth would last up to 20 minutes. 20 minutes later she came back to me and said, yes you’re right. So really it’s good value!”

His latest venture will be Sicilian orange and lemon peel, dipped in his delicious chocolate.

“It’s like eating the most wonderful crisps,” he said. "The biggest challenge of working with chocolate is self-restraint!”

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