Paul A Young talks chocolate and charity
The renowned chocolatier has teamed up with celebrities and chefs to create a new book of melt-in-your-mouth recipes, all for a good cause
Two years ago I received an invitation from Andy Williamson, the chief executive of the Children's Air Ambulance. He wanted to see if I'd be interested in helping raise money for a second helicopter – of course I said yes. When I first got involved, the charity was still quite new; I really liked the way it was run and they have a lot of creative people on board.
I put together my latest book, Sensational Chocolate, as a way to use my skills and business to raise money for the Children's Air Ambulance, with 100 per cent of my commission going towards the charity. It brings together recipes from friends, celebrities and well-known chefs, as well as some of my own. It's been a really fun way to write a book – it's nice to have lots of different ideas, angles and views.
Everyone involved loves both the charity and chocolate – they're the kind of people who dig out a recipe straight away when you ask them for their favourite chocolate pudding. Some, such as Emma Thompson, I've known for years – she's a customer of mine and I've made bespoke commissions for her before. Celebrities get a lot of requests and obviously can't do everything and have to be selective, but this book is a little bit different and that's why I think so many said yes immediately. With Emma, she told me all the things she liked and we worked on the recipe together to create something really indulgent and unique. Others sent in their favourites, such as Brian Blessed, who had a vegan chocolate mousse made with avocado that he loves.
I wanted it to be a complete mix of different types of food. It means that anyone buying the book can find something that is easy to make, or spicy, a cake, a biscuit, a dessert… the list goes on. A diverse range of chefs have also contributed, from Cyrus Todiwala, who has made an Indian-spiced sauce served with steak, to Marco Pierre White – a very classically trained chef – with his chocolate tart.
A lot of my own recipes here are savoury – I enjoy taking the food I love and redevising it with chocolate as a key element. My chocolate ketchup in the book still tastes like the tomato original, but has a really rounded, delicate finish to it. And the chocolate, cheese and anchovy sandwich is salty and tangy and something people can make at home very easily.
I'll be at the Chocolate Show this month doing book signings and the event is a great way to get exposure to different types of chocolate, from bean to bar to truffles. People are increasingly engaging with the ingredient in a different way, similar to how with wine we are now aware of every variety and who actually grows the grapes. That's starting with chocolate – it's not just about the percentage of cocoa; we can educate and introduce people to types they've never tried before.
For me, when you say "chocolate dessert", the first thing I think of is indulgence and comfort. It's like a hug from the inside when you eat it and you feel like you're having a real treat. Ultimately, that's what it's all about – it makes everyone smile.
PAUL A YOUNG is an award-winning chocolatier, renowned for his innovative use of flavour combinations. His latest book, Sensational Chocolate, is published by Clearview Books, £20, with proceeds going to the Children's Air Ambulance; paulayoung.co.uk; childrensairambulance.org.uk