For the sweet-toothed among us chocolate is an indulgent pleasure, but for chocolatier Ruth Hinks it is a form of art and a way of life.
It’s difficult to think of a fate worse than being deprived of chocolate. But throughout her childhood, this was a reality for UK World Chocolate Master and daughter of a dentist, Ruth Hinks.
Today the South African born, Australian raised chocolatier runs Cocoa Black, a successful emporium of chocolatey delights that includes a cafe, a shop and a chocolate and pastry making school in Peebles in the Scottish Borders.
Hinks fell into chocolate making at the age of 14 when her father told her that if she wanted a double tape deck she would need to earn enough to buy one for herself.
He suggested that she grow vegetables to sell, but she decided to buy an Easter egg mould instead. She melted chocolate over the kettle and made her first egg, which she sold to her father.
This progressed to selling eggs to her neighbours and then she set up shop in her father’s dentist surgery.
‘This was 30 years ago, I’m sure you wouldn’t get away with that nowadays,’ laughs Hinks.
Hinks now teaches the art of chocolate making to amateurs and professionals from all over the world. Last year she became the first woman to represent the UK in the finals of the
World Chocolate Masters in Paris, finishing fifth overall, the highest place ever achieved by a chocolatier from the UK.
When asked if she is now sick of eating chocolate, Hinks says, ‘I love chocolate, so I do eat it, but I have to keep it in moderation. My favourite is the finest quality Madifrolo chocolate, it’s from Madagascar and its provenance can be traced all the way back to the cocoa plantation.’
This year will see Hinks travel to New York to teach chocolate making. She also plans to travel back to France to develop her own unique signature chocolate blend.
This feature was originally published in March 2014.