Angus Thirlwell (Person)
Angus Thirlwell is co-founder of UK chocolate retailer and cocoa grower Hotel Chocolat, who were kind enough to supply us with his official profile:
“I count myself as one of the luckiest people around – to work every day in a business that lives by my obsessions for chocolate, true creativity and honest ingredients, and which also has a link back to my childhood in the West Indies through our cocoa estate in Saint Lucia”.
To say that Angus Thirlwell is passionate about chocolate would be an understatement because, as he willingly admits, it’s more of an obsession. Together with his business partner, Peter Harris, he founded Hotel Chocolat in 1993 with two specific aims – to make chocolate that really excites the senses and to make that chocolate widely available.
Angus religiously eats chocolate every day, tastes and approves every single recipe, and is as much at home in the development kitchen as he is in the boardroom or, more recently, amongst the cocoa trees. It was a bold move to become a cocoa grower, a point underlined by the fact that Hotel Chocolat is one of very few to do it, but it was the natural progression of Angus’ passion for chocolate.
Fittingly, he was inspired to guide the company towards growing its own cocoa by one of his own customers, who sent him a book she had found while tidying her husband’s study. It was a 1920 edition of Cocoa & Chocolate, Their History from Plantation to Consumer. The history it told was of cocoa growing in the West Indies and it was particularly inspirational to Angus, having spent part of his childhood there. After an intensive search that took in several islands, Angus and Peter found The Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia, which they bought almost immediately in April 2006.
Growing cocoa is a dream come true for Angus, but a second dream is also about to come to fruition, with the opening of the ‘real’ Hotel Chocolat. 2010 will see the opening of a boutique hotel built in the grounds of the company’s Saint Lucian cocoa plantation, Rabot Estate. It’s set to be a unique destination that brings together barefoot luxury, natural well-being and more than a touch of Hotel Chocolat’s style. And, of course, there will also be a strong link to chocolate too, embodied by the ‘Cocoa Cuisine’ offered at the hotel’s Boucan Bar & Restaurant – offering fresh, locally sourced food with playful and innovative pairing of cocoa and chocolate flavour notes in its menu.
Angus’ inspirational leadership has resulted in a number of innovations that continue to make Hotel Chocolat’s Hertfordshire HQ one of the most coveted places to work – including a Chocolate Diploma and the opportunity for employees to visit the Saint Lucia plantation. It has also seen the brand blossom into what it is today, staying ahead of the pack and resulting in the strong brand reputation that is Hotel Chocolat.
From growing fine cocoa in Saint Lucia, to the exciting chocolate available in stores, it’s clear that Angus’ passion remains strong and that he’s on a mission to let the world know that British chocolate is once again a force to be reckoned with.
Our Video Interview With Angus
You can read an in-depth interview with Angus Thirlwell on Chocablog.