Many people tell themselves that when they grow up they want to be sweet shop owners, confectioners, or perhaps even go full-Wonka and start a chocolate factory. For former UoY PPE student and entrepreneur, Sophie Jewett, these are not just dreams but a plan of action. In the last few months, Jewett built a chocolate factory in an empty office space in Castlegate, which she hopes will “revitalise and celebrate that chocolate industry which York has become so famous for across the world” – securing York’s image as chocolate-box city and confectionary capital for many years to come!
Jewett has endeavoured to find ethically grown high-quality Cocoa, mostly in South America, harvested up until February, and shipped right over to York. Production on site will start in April, where Jewett hopes to not just give York a taste of lovely chocolate, but an education in the values and history of chocolate. Jewett hopes her Chocolate Factory will be part of a growing movement around the world the rewards farmers who treat their workers well and don’t harm vast amounts of rainforest, creating chocolate that is not only mixed with love, but makes the world taste good.
The factory, York Cocoa Works, was funded in part by an Innovation grant administered by the University of York, is 3,000 sq ft, in the centre of York, and just a short distance away from Jewett’s other enterprise York Cocoa House, a chocolate shop, restaurant, school. York was home to chocolate pioneers Terry’s and Rowntrees, and to this day hosts Nestlé’s Product Technology Centre for Confectionery; the York Cocoa Works project hopes to ensure that York’s chocolate making skills are not lost. York Cocoa Works aims to develop the city’s workforce, taking on ten new employees and opening an apprenticeship program.
When in full production, York Cocoa Works will have the capacity to produce 200 tonnes of chocolate each year – just over 13 kilograms for every student enrolled at the University of York.
Jewett, who was YUSU’s Rag President between 2000-2001, had a message for students at York:
“Give something a go – don’t be scared. there’s nothing stopping you, he only barrier is yourself, there’s nothing stopping you! Focus on what your idea is, and who you can reach out to”.
With that in mind, York Vision is holding Election on Friday 2nd Febuary – Come Along to P/T/006 at 6pm to learn how to source stories, run for a role in York Vision: food and drink provided!