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Interview: Elizabeth Dawson, Café au Chocolat of Tewkesbury

PUBLISHED: 10:54 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:54 12 September 2017

Nigel, Elizabeth and Alfie

Nigel, Elizabeth and Alfie

Café au Chocolat

Chocolatier Elizabeth Dawson’s chosen last meal on earth wouldn’t contain a single cocoa bean...

What is your earliest memory of food?

My Grandma’s homemade apple pies. Our nickname for her was ‘Grandma Pie’.

What inspired you to become a chocolatier?

I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with chocolate in my kitchen and was fortunate enough to live near two outstanding chocolatiers who inspired me and gave me the confidence to pursue my interest further.

Do you have a personal favourite chocolate?

I’ve recently made a raspberry and mint leaves truffle. Its currently my favourite but I like to experiment with different flavours.

What savoury dishes do you have on the menu?

We serve light lunches which are all freshly made to order. Sandwiches, toasties, paninis, toasted open bagels, savoury croissants, soup of the day and salads are the main savoury items on our menu.

We’ve also recently added and afternoon tea menu.

Have you ever had any cooking disasters?

I’ve attempted to make honeycomb twice. Both resulted in major disasters and ruined pans! The first attempt was more like a volcano erupting! I won’t be making it again.

Have you ever given up chocolate for Lent?

NO!

Tell us about your Chocolate Indulgence Challenge...

It’s a platter of totally calorific chocolate treats which customers attempt to eat without the help of others! If they manage to devour the whole lot, their name is added to our chocolate indulgence achievement board.

Our home-made chocolate fudge cake, loved by many, is probably the toughest to polish off. It also includes a slice of Rocky Road, chocolate cigarrello, a pot of melted Belgian chocolate, fudge, whipped cream and of course our own handmade chocolates.

Is Alfie, your Chocolate Lab, ever allowed chocolate?

Alfie would love to eat chocolate but unfortunately, he doesn’t get the chance to be a chief taster! This job is saved for our staff!

Which chef has been your greatest inspiration?

I have learnt so much and been given the drive and encouragement to pursue my passion by a local chocolatier back home near Manchester. Slattery’s has been established for 50 years. A patisserie and chocolatier, they specialise in cakes and chocolate and run a training school on site. I’ve attended courses and learnt pretty much everything I know. John Slattery in particular has been the greatest inspiration to me. He is always willing to share his expertise and give advice.

What’s in your fridge at home?

Lots of fresh salads and asparagus, fresh mango, strawberries, Greek yoghurt, fresh pasta, jumbo prawns and smoked salmon. Plus a few bottles of my favourite white wine

What is your favourite local restaurant?

There are a number of local independent restaurants in Tewkesbury. All of which have a good reputation and offer a friendly welcoming service.

Café au Chocolat, Tewkesbury Café au Chocolat, Tewkesbury

Why should people visit you?

We are an independent coffee shop that has a uniqueness with our home-made chocolate. Many of our cakes are homemade and we have a reputation for our delicious Devonshire scones which are freshly made each morning.

We pride ourselves in our friendly welcoming service - It’s more of a meeting place than a café for our regulars.

We are also dog friendly and our chocolate Labrador Alfie has become quite a well-known character in the town.

Why did you and Nigel choose Tewkesbury to set up the café?

We met whilst studying for our teacher training in Cheltenham. The Cotswolds became our second home and our escape during our school holidays. It was the perfect location for our change of career!

What would you choose for your last meal on earth?

I’d definitely go for comfort food: my mum’s meat and potato pie, followed by strawberries, homemade meringues and vanilla ice cream.

Café au Chocolat can be found at 137 High Street, Tewkesbury, GL20 5JR

Contact: 01684 275332 or visit the website here.

Café au Chocolat was our winner of Local Tea/Coffee Shop of the Year at the Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards 2017 - see all our winners here.

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