As works of art go, Easter Eggs are a somewhat unusual canvass, but for artisan chocolatier Baravelli’s Ltd, exquisite taste and design go hand-in-hand.
By the time Easter is over Mark, and Emma Baravelli will have fashioned over 1,000 chocolate eggs at their shop in Conwy.
For more than a decade the husband and wife team have been skilfully crafting the chocolate which has won them countless awards and plaudits from the international chocolate world.
One of only a handful of bean-to-bar artisan chocolatiers in the UK, it wasn’t until the opening of their shop four years ago that they began creating the Easter Eggs which have caused such a stir among chocolate aficionados.
Since then the likes of iconic food retailers Fortnum and Mason, Harrods, and Selfridges, have commissioned Baravelli’s to produce their coveted Easter Eggs.
This, in turn, has resulted in Baravelli’s exquisite egg designs being featured by some of the most prestigious magazines and media including Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vogue, The Telegraph and The Independent – and the company will soon be showcased on the Channel 4 programme ‘Extreme Chocolate Makers’.
“It is amazing when you consider we are a ‘two-man band’ in a small town,” says Mark. “But we don’t just want to publicise ourselves; we really want to push Conwy. The more people who come here, the better for everyone, not just for us but for the town.”
The stunning decoration is done by former textile artist, Emma, with some eggs taking up to 100 hours to complete.
Says Emma, “Growing up I was always surrounded by art, my father was a jeweller and my mother an embroiderer, and we had family members who were artists and actors. So, art is in my blood, and I always knew I wanted to do something connected with art.”
Following ten years in textiles, Emma had a change of direction, moving into the food industry, and now as a chocolatier, her experiences have combined to create the ‘Haut couture’ of chocolate.
She says, “Now all my skills have been brought together I suppose I have come full circle!”
The Easter Eggs are made in batches of six, as Emma says, “half a dozen eggs seems appropriate” with the coloured cocoa butter used to create the designs being painstakingly applied layer by layer.
Inspiration comes from numerous places with retailers often requesting a particular theme, which Emma then researches.
“Fortnum and Mason wanted ‘chickens with attitude’ so I spent a lot of time looking for the right chicken to be my ‘muse’,” she laughs.
It is no wonder that Baravelli’s shop is popular with visitors keen to indulge themselves in the luxurious chocolate and admire the stunning edible sculptures.
Last weekend (April 5/6) there was a bonus for chocolate and art lovers alike as Emma live-painted a giant egg in the shop’s window. Standing 66cm tall, and weighing over 11 kilos, the egg was decorated with images and scenes from the Conwy area.
But the couple’s love of chocolate recently took another turn, with a new branch to their business – Conwy Distillery Ltd. Inspired by Mark’s Italian heritage and their love of chocolate, they created Cocoacello – a premium cocoa-infused liqueur which is a twist on the traditional Limoncello alcoholic drink.
They have been helped in this latest venture by Cywain – a Menter a Busnes delivered project that supports the development of growth orientated businesses in the food and drink sector in Wales.
Says Mark, “The support that we have received from Cywain has been invaluable in moving our business forward. It has brought lots of opportunities and enabled us to soft launch our new product at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.
During the test trading at the fair we have gained valuable feedback from members of the public and learnt new skills from the mentors involved.”
“Cywain has been working with Baravelli’s offering guidance and ongoing branding support. We are looking forward to continuing to work together with the new branch of the company, Conwy Distillery Ltd, and their recent creation Cocoacello liqueur,” said Nerys Davies, Cywain development manager.