Ever thought of mixing blue corn with blueberries? What about lavender and honeycomb? Jade Anderson of Wawa Chocolatier has and lucky for us she is blending these delicious flavours through European coverture chocolate for our eating pleasure right here in Melbourne.
Jade is from country Western Australia (hence Wawa) but has adopted the big smoke of Melbourne as her home. She came here looking to find “what she would do for the rest of her life” and became somewhat enchanted with the craft of cake decorating.
Her plan was to learn some great skills in Melbourne and then take them back to WA and decorate cakes. But two things threw a spanner in the works. Firstly, love – she met her partner and they have set up home in Carlton. Secondly, during her adventures in cake decorating, she found herself drawn to all the aspects that let her work with chocolate. She soon figured out that really, that was her passion.
While Jade has been messing about with flavours for about four years, in 2014 she worked with a designer to create the right look and feel for her packaging and then launched Wawa Chocolatier at the Coburg Night Markets. This young business has some of the most interesting flavours mixed through chocolate that you will see anywhere.
Jade’s favourite is the milk chocolate with lavender, honeycomb and cacao nibs. I asked her why. “Honeycomb!” was her immediate and enthusiastic response, but then upon a bit of reflection she offers that the lavender they use is from a town in Western Australia, near to where she grew up, so there’s a connection to home there as well.
Crazy, huh? Jade says that the inspiration for the interesting fillings, or ‘inclusions’ as she calls them, come from the ingredients themselves.
“I have worked backwards. The project has been on the radar for two or three years. I’ve come across ingredients that I’ve liked and then tried to make things with them. It’s often not just the product, but the people behind it as well. Being in Melbourne and reading about the food scene you just think ‘I love what they are doing!’ For example think about Melbourne City Rooftop Honey and Baker di Chirico. Essentially, it was the ingredients that inspired the product”. She really goes out of her way to include some of those loves.
“The blueberries are a real labour of love. I only wanted to use Moondarah blueberries (a family owned and operated farm in Gippsland), but they don’t provide a dehydrated product. I hand chop and dehydrate each one of the berries myself”.
Jade also hand makes the honeycomb using Melbourne City Rooftop Honey. In fact, she prepares all the fillings herself.
During out chat, I asked Jade if there are ever been flavours that just don’t work? “I had a play with wasabi for a while and although the wasabi and peanut in white chocolate wasn’t bad, I wanted to create flavours that people would enjoy and come back for. This was one of those ones you try for the experience but you’ll never be sitting on the couch craving it again.”
Currently Jade hand makes all of her chocolates in her home kitchen. Something she considers to be perfectly normal, but she was interested to discover that some people are unsure about the idea. She is quick to reassure them. “We are a kid, pet and meat free household and the council reviews my records and conducts regular inspections just like any other food premises.”
But what about her home looking and feeling like a chocolate factory? “It actually doesn’t take a lot of space because I make small batches of 30 bars at a time of each flavour. My tank is six litres and I have a slab of marble that is great for tempering (my girlfriend’s Dad found in his shed!) Although I’d like to find a space outside of the house eventually, I don’t want to use tempering machines. I spend a day producing the fillings and then have a moulding day where I mix them with chocolate.”
“We actually don’t need to eat a lot of chocolate, so I’d like to encourage people to pay a little more for good chocolate, but eat less of it.” This kind of enlightened thinking surfaces again when I ask Jade about her vision for the company. Her answer has nothing to do with chocolate. “I want to create a good little business culture. It’s not just about chocolate. I’ve worked so many places and seen how to do things and not to do things. A lot of workplaces don’t take enough care to keep staff happy and motivated and learning. I want to create something where people will come to work and love it”.
But its early days and right now, Jade has created something that we’ll all be coming back for and loving it.