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chocolates

Lindsay and Edmunds

Amanda Whitley

Lindsay and Edmunds: a chocolate-coated success story

Imagine a job that gave you an excuse to visit chocolate shops in Europe and the chance to work with a top chocolatier in Italy. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Not if you’re Peter Edmunds, owner of boutique Canberra chocolatierLindsay and Edmunds.

Peter and his wife Michelle started Lindsay and Edmunds five years ago, inspired by a “love of food and a love of chocolate”. They had lived in Europe for a number of years, where Peter noticed that Europeans really valued their food and particularly their chocolate, and wanted to bring that appreciation to Australia.

Since finishing his chef’s apprenticeship in the 1980s, Peter had always dreamed about starting his own food-related business. Moving back to Australia gave him that opportunity. “It wasn’t necessarily going to be chocolate,” he says, “I was inspired by organic food in general. But after doing some research, I realised that no one was doing a high quality handmade organic chocolate. So that’s where the idea came from.”

The use of organic ingredients is a key point of difference for Lindsay and Edmunds chocolate. “Part of our philosophy is that we use no artificial flavourings, oils, essences, colours or anything like that,” Peter says. “We want a product that is certified organic to be as natural as possible.”

This includes the ingredients that they use to create their flavoured chocolates. I asked Peter how they come up with their ideas. “It depends on what organic products are available,” he says. “So we see what we can find, and then think about how it could be combined with other ingredients and chocolate. For example, we might source some wakame (seaweed), and try mixing it with macadamias and dark chocolate. Or we might get some wasabi and try making a wasabi ganache chocolate. Coming up with an idea and then turning it into something that we can present to our customers is one of the things I enjoy most about being a chocolatier.”

Lindsay and Edmunds’ philosophy is that whatever is added to the chocolate has to complement it, not dominate it. “Because we start with one of the world’s best chocolates, everything that we add to it should enhance its taste, not take away from it,” Peter says. “An example of this is our caramelised chilli and macadamia slab, which won a gold medal at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. One of the things the judges said they liked the best was that the caramelised chilli and macadamia were an added benefit to the chocolate, rather than the dominant thing.

“They also really liked what I call the ‘taste progressions’ of it. That is, when you first bite into it, all you taste is dark chocolate. Then the chilli flavour comes on, followed by the crunch of the caramelised macadamia, and when that leaves the palate you’re left with the dark chocolate again.”

If you’re wondering whether the use of organic ingredients makes a difference, I can give you an example. I’d already bought and tried Lindsay and Edmunds’ milk and dark chocolates, which were rich and delicious. But while wandering around the store I was offered a sample of white chocolate, which I normally can’t stand. However, this actually tasted good, so I asked Peter what the difference was between theirs and other white chocolates.

“Cheap white chocolate has no chocolate in it whatsoever,” he explains. “It will have palm, vegetable or some sort of blended oil, whereas our white chocolate is 29 per cent cocoa butter, which makes it really rich and creamy.” So there you go (although I’d recommend you go find out for yourselves anyway—it’s a great excuse to eat chocolate for ‘research purposes’).

Another point of difference for Lindsay and Edmunds compared to other chocolate stores is its artistic vision. On a trip to Europe in October last year, Peter went to Antwerp, Belgium, where he was impressed by the artisanal talents of the independent chocolatiers, particularly in their window displays. He was struck by the creativity of one in particular:

“It was leading up to Halloween, and this particular chocolatier had a themed display in his shop window. It was a giant chocolate sculpture of his head with the top of his skull cut off, and next to it was a big chocolate brain, with the words, “What’s on my mind?” in front of it. That’s the kind of creative stuff that we want to start getting into.”

Lindsay and Edmunds’ first foray into this was their recent showpiece Easter eggs.

“The eggs have probably been the most fun thing we’ve done so far,” Peter says. “They weighed from 300 grams to 3 kilos, and cost between $35 to $350. But the idea wasn’t to make them (particularly the big ones) for selling, it was just to show them off, to give customers something different to look at. It was really great to see people coming in to see them, taking photos of themselves or their kids with the eggs and sending photos of the eggs to their friends.

“Moving on from there, our plan is to do commissions, for example, a chocolate box made of chocolate that can be filled with individual chocolates and covered with a decorated chocolate lid, or a chocolate football in the Raiders’ colours. We also want to come up with different chocolate displays for the store, that people just want to look at, like a tourist attraction.”

Peter is also looking to expand the range of what’s available instore.

“We’ve got a new piece of equipment being delivered from Italy which will allow us to ‘trajet’, which means we can use it to create chocolate-coated products.” This new equipment will enable Lindsay and Edmunds to make one of the items Peter says they are constantly asked for—chocolate-coated coffee beans.

“We’re going to make them in a whole range, like white, milk, and dark chocolate, maybe chilli and vanilla bean, but we’re also going to make a variety of other things,” he says. “Nuts, dried fruits, maybe even things like goji berries and pineapple, there are so many possibilities.

“When we have this range I want to present it in a way that people can buy a mix of things, they don’t have to buy a packet of just one type. Maybe in big apothecary jars with scoops, I’d like to have a dozen, maybe 20 different things for people to choose from. And big slabs of chocolate, our maxi-slabs, with whole hazelnuts and macadamias surrounded in chocolate, which people can buy pieces of by weight. I guess you could call it a very high end chocolate lolly shop for adults!”

(Is anyone else really liking the sound of this? I honestly can’t wait!)

If it’s not enough that Lindsay and Edmunds has a commercial kitchen and outlet in Fairbairn and a store in the Canberra Centre, they also sell to 100 wholesalers and online, and have recently signed up to sell a new product range through Coles. The new range is called Cocopod, and is part of a new instore gourmet section that Coles will be trialling in six of its Melbourne stores (it’s currently only in one). If the trial is successful, Coles will roll it out to other selected stores.

While the Coles opportunity was a product of good timing, Peter explains that even before that he had always intended to develop a chocolate range to go into high-end supermarkets, rather than Lindsay and Edmunds chocolates, as “the Lindsay and Edmunds range is a premium product and we don’t want to put our premium product into a supermarket.” In addition to Coles, the Cocopod range is also available in a select range of IGA stores.

It’s worth noting that in addition to using organic ingredients, Lindsay and Edmunds also uses certified Fairtradechocolate made in Belgium from Dominican Republic cacao beans. Fairtrade means that the producers are paid a sustainable price for their product, “addressing the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives” [source: www.fairtrade.com.au].

Organic, Fairtrade and just plain delicious, i.e. healthy, ethical and tasty—to me that’s three excellent reasons to eatLindsay and Edmunds chocolate. (Now to raid the stash I have at home, all this talk of chocolate has made me hungry…)

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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