Chocolate East – A Journey Along Brick Lane London and Beyond into Shoreditch
We will be focussing on Brick Lane in East London by retracing a guided walk organised by City Steps Guided Tours. This fascinating tour of an iconic road in London’s East end will leave you craving chocolate, beer, curries, bagels and Turkish shish kebabs . We’ve also thrown in brief tales about Jack the Ripper’s gruesome history and how a road has changed from abject poverty and deprivation over the decades to being cool and trendy.
So did they make bricks on Brick Lane?
Brick Lane was originally called Whitechapel Lane but was renamed because local earth was clay and used by brick and tile manufacturers who were based in the lane during the 15thcentury.
In the 16th Century, long before the French Huguenots arrived and the Truman Brewery was built it was discovered that the ground in the area around our current Brick Lane was full of clay, perfect for creating bricks and tiles. Then the Great Fire of London which started in the King’s bakery in 1666 devastated the central parts of the city of London and raged from Sunday, 2 September right until Wednesday, 5 September.
After this tragedy there was an acute demand for bricks. A kiln was installed at the northern end of the road, and bricks were transported down the length of the street to Whitechapel Road.
By the 17th century, the street had also become a popular location for breweries. The famous brewing family, the Trumans, started their business here and you can still see their Black Eagle Brewery on the street. This century also saw the start of its market.
Chocolate East – Dark Sugars Boutique
Dark Sugars has 2 outlets on Brick Lane and is the longest surviving chocolate boutique on the Lane. Dark Sugars’ owner, Fatou Mendy is a skilled Chocolateur having learned her craft after a visit to Ghana where she said she saw “what chocolate was”. She was inspired and so went off to Belgium and Switzerland to learn as much as she could about the crafting chocolate.
On her return to London she decided to authentic produce luxury chocolate truffles in Spitalfields Market selling two flavours: coffee and walnut, and stem ginger and honey. After a very successful press coverage in the Guardian Mendy was invited to sell her creations from Borough Market.
Her 11 years stint at the market led to 3 years of travel through South America and West where she visited farms and got the opportunity to work with the Ghana Cocoa Board to research plantations and harvest cocoa.
On her return to London Mendy opened her first boutique shop Dark Sugars on Brick Lane in 2013 and in 2015 she then went on to open her Cocoa House store on the Lane. Mendy’s plans for the Cocoa House is o have a cocoa roaster, allowing customers to see the process of turning bean to bar and she hopes to offer customers a chance to create their own chocolate. Mendy is also planning on running cocoa workshops for children so that they can experience the history and making of chocolate.
Other Chocolate Shops which have migrated elsewhere
Caitlin Paxton started a chocolate-making enterprise in Bethnal Green in a shop off Brick Lane in Cheshire Street however her business needed to expand but she found that rent on the Lane was too expensive and so she packed up her growing business and went to set up shop in Brighton.
There was also the Redchurch Street chocolate haven at the top of Brick Lane/ Bethnal Green Road run by chocolate-makers, the Mast Brothers.
Rick Mast, and his brother Michael, are from ,Iowa USA, decided on a change of career and so moved to Brooklyn and started their chocolate making business in 2006. In 2007 they started their business Mast Brothers, and in 2009 they opened their first factory and shop in Brooklyn.
They expanded their enterprise by opening a boutique shop in Shoreditch which was greeted with a lot of enthusiasm by London chocolate lovers; the shop is now closed but the Brothers are still active in the chocolate industry.
BOOK YOUR WALK HERE:
This exclusive walk will take you on a gentle but fascinating tour of an iconic road in London’s East end.
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UPDATES & EVENTS
In March 2018, Hotelympia returns with four brand new shows, providing a platform for restaurants, hotels, pubs, casual dining and contract caterers to meet, review and source from the finest suppliers available in the market.
According to the British Hospitality Association approximately 60% of employees in the tourism and hospitality industries are women, yet only 15% are in senior management positions. Today there are circa 24,000 fewer women in management positions in the hospitality sector than there were in 2010 and women working in the hospitality and catering sector in 2015 were on average paid 18% less than their male co-workers. At Hotelympia we will be addressing these issues by focusing an entire day on Women in Hospitality.