“To most people, this is an experience one must undertake at least once in their life time, for me, this is my life.” Paul Wayne Gregory
BIO: Passionate. Disciplined. Visionary. Paul Wayne Gregory is chatting away to awaiting fans at the Chocolate Unwrapped show this year, yet he devotes 110% attention to talking about his passion to each individual and he doesn’t leave the conversation till he is satisfied he has got his message across. Finally I manage to catch a quick interview with him, as he gasps for water to quench his thirst from talking non-stop!
He is an award winning bespoke chocolate artist, having carved out a niche for his company amongst some of the world renowned chocolatier’s and is collaborating with some of the high end restaurant chains.
Climbing from strength to strength he has made chocolate’s for the Queen’s 80th birthday, created bespoke chocolates for the launch for Window’s Live Europe, plus achieved an award of excellence for his Pure Indulgence range, 8 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze for each individual chocolate truffle, making it truly an award winning box.
He has over 20 years experience in the catering industry, starting out as a baker and then becoming a main kitchen chef but found his true love in the pastry section. He moved to Ireland to work in the Michelin star restaurant, Peacock Alley. Gregory states “I still use the knowledge I have from when I was 18, today and from my past work experience”.
The list of his credentials is endless as he is ever achieving ,his success really shines through and when you talk to him you see exactly why.
Gregory has an extensive patisserie background where he exclaims he would be delving into cakes & patisserie if he wasn’t so in love with chocolate. He was taken under the wing of acclaimed French grand-master patissier, Jean Valentin and also worked alongside Oriel Balaguer, a graduate of Ferran Adria’s restaurant. It was Valentin that taught him to work with chocolate where ” he told me to make something , then straight after to make it again”. He then said to me “if I ever go into business work in chocolate, because I have a natural flair with it”.
PHILOSOPHY: ‘Indulgence is everything’ Its more than just a strap-line, it’s the philosophy that represents himself and his work. Gregory enthuses “you only have less than 2 minutes to connect with someone, capture their senses, make them remember, so flavour has to be perfect”. He took over 2 years of trial and error to master the flavours and get his combinations up to award winning standards. His passion fruit flavour being the first to win an award. The “first has to be as good as the last” that’s why his work is consistent and quality is handcrafted to perfection every single time.
CHOCOLATES: His chocolates are a blend of flavoured ganaches’, some exotic coconut, fruit and rum. These being inspired from his family background from the Caribbean, to give a distinctive ‘chocolate personality’ to his brand.
Passion fruit is his signature flavour, ‘it’s hard to get this right because passion fruit is such an acidic flavour so you need to balance it well’, to me this flavour reflects Gregory’s passion for life, being the exuberant person he is.
However, he is not scared of experimenting and trying new avenue’s as he has produced his award-winning chocolate lollies featuring a ‘soft, salted caramel center, coated with popping candy and wrapped in rich, bitter-sweet dark chocolate.’ I was able to try one of these and can vouch it was pure heaven and indulgence for what lasted seconds leaving you wanting more..
THE FUTURE: Up perched on a shelf at the show, Gregory has a chocolate shaped face sculpture, up close it is remarkable in detail of the hair and facial features . He exclaimed how the process began with taking a cask of the face then hand moulding the feature carefully, ‘you have to consider everything, the heat of the room ,warmth of your hand.. these are all important factors. Or you could end up with a melted mess’. Gregory wants to be known as a ‘chocolate artist’ not just a chocolatier..
This is a direction he wants to branch out in, creating art and sculptures his work has included a life like chocolate torso, carefully crafted bust and a 3ft high doll house. He is inspired by artist’s alike and take’s inspiration from oil paintings. Also a member of the Experimental Food Society which had an exhibition in London last weekend, he showcases his chocolate artwork.
I leave Gregory, but unwillingly so because he is such a positive, creative yet disciplined artist and talking to him is truly inspiring. One thing for sure he really is a ‘bespoke chocolate artist’ with a deep passion for what he does, there is no limit to how far that creativity can or will take him.
By Selina Periampillai
Appearing more like a novel then a cookbook, this is exactly how the book is meant to be, harbouring chapters under headings like; The Medieval Larder. It utilises factual references and is sugar-coated in stories of the King’s & Lady’s of the era to the birth of terms such as the ‘Umble Pie’ to the Humble Pie.
Then through to the ages of the Modern English world, the 70, 80′s and 90′s, Clarissa carries your stomach on a journey, describing her own memories, tastes on food and her prominent admiration for Elizabeth David, the well established Cookery writer in the mid 20th century or Eleanor of Aquitaine, with introducing Eastern spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg to Britain.
This book appeals to the underlying historians in us or those with a quizzical nature on the origin of English Food. You don’t have to read the whole book to gain a sense of its purpose but can choose to focus on the specific chapter of interests. She discusses the influences on the nation’s diet as immigrant communities have made their contribution to the way we eat today and regales us with tales of chefs, cookery book writers and important public figures.
Most of all she evokes the sense of what it was like to eat, dine and in some cases survive in these times; from rich grand banquets to the poor, eating what they can to live (even if this is leftovers thrown away by the rich).
Throughout the book you get a taste of historic menus and recipes from the French inspired ‘Filleting of three young partridges‘ to Elinor Fettiplace’s recipe for a cake big enough to cut into a hundred slices! And towards the back there is a collection of 20 or so recipes in an Appendix, most you may be inclined to try at home like a Cream Custard Tart, Sweet and Sour Fish, Apple and Orange Tart which originate from centuries ago.
A selective audience were lucky enough to have the opportunity to descend upon the grand and historic Savoy hotel in London, as the location of a fine dining event with Clarissa Dickson Wright, one could not say no.
History shows the Savoy hosted a birthday bash for Edward VII when the forecourt was filled with swans, doves, fish and where guests were seated in elaborate flower filled gondolas, served 12 courses!
Embodied in spectacular surroundings of grandeur, we her guests are all seated in the Ballroom, dripping with crystal chandeliers and intricate architecture it is a room that has lived and seen many events. All having a signed copy of her book perched on our seats where we would reside to be served by Executive Chef Bernard Mayer’s full four course dinner inspired by her book and recipes used.
We ate hashes of delicate, flaked, white crab with braised artichokes and a caper relish followed by a beautifully succulent, full-bodied venison casserole, crispy roasted potatoes & vegetables gliding amongst a deep, redcurrant red wine jus. To finish a rich and slightly dense apple orange tart, however the ginger ice cream was the show stealer.
Clarissa’s much awaited presence finally took place on a small stage near the front where she was comfortably perched on an armchair, ready to regale tales of curly coated pigs, eating swan (yes she has and describes it as” very fishy, rather stringy”) and to re-iterate a recent article about her, is there anything she will not eat?
Well, I think she has tried most things and has an air of experimentation that doesn’t seem to faze her. Her three favourite things are food of course, she has always been fascinated by history and gin her ‘drug of choice’ ( however now she no longer drinks).
There are, she says, too many deer in the UK, disturbing farmland and trees, her view is to eat them. After all our digestive system has always been more attuned to venison than it ever has beef!
Food Historian, Clarissa portrays wit, characteristic anecdotes and is thoroughly entertaining in real life and this shines through in her book. It is a fun, educational read for those Sunday afternoon’s, I only wish it wasn’t so big & heavy of a book…
Much like her previous autobiography, Spilling the Beans, I expect this book will be top of the list for a Christmas bestseller.