Sir Evelyn de Rothschild has been a chocoholic almost since birth. And now, in his 80s, he has realised his lifetime’s ambition of a chocolate shop all of his own – with a little help from the family, of course. By Amy Bryant. Photographs by Simon Brown
‘I haven’t drunk coffee for 50 years, but I am very partial to hot chocolate whenever I have the chance,’ says Sir evelyn de rothschild. the 85-year-old financier and member of the rothschild banking family is partial to chocolate full stop, and none more so than the range that launched in his name in May last year. at r Chocolate’s two London boutique sand online shop, you’ ll find fresh boxes of ganaches yielding flavours such as delicate thy me and honey, or amaretto and blackberry; ornate bars made withfeu ill anti ne wafer and praline; and rich truffles coated in a bright-green rubble of chopped pistachio. In the Belg ra via flagship, glass counters are lined with lacquer-red domed desserts and ‘ingots’ imagined in cocoa-dusted dark chocolate and cherry mousse. It’ s a sugar-scented haven where Sir evelyn, living not far away in Chelsea, can ‘trot down the road to, eat too much chocolate, and wander home slowly to have a sleep’.
Can the co-founder of r Chocolate ever eat too much? aged four, he fell for the chocolate ice cream served at Gunter’s tea Shop in Mayfair. during the war, his father gave Sir evelyn and his sister renée his sweet coupons, and t he children sought out chocolate as a rare break from barley sugars. after being evacuated to america, Sir evelyn’ s first job was in a drug store operating the soda fountain and dishing out ice-cream sundaes .‘ I could eat as much chocolate as I liked,’ he recalls with a laugh. having grown up with a penchant for ‘Mr Cadbury’s dark chocolate’, he has enjoyed bars and blends around the world. In Florence, venice and vienna, he admits, ‘I can tell you where my favourite chocolate shops a re, but not t he museums.’ nowadays, his taste is for the darkest stuff, and for hot chocolate thick enough for a spoon to stand up in. ‘I much prefer that to a dessert.’
his daughter, Jessica, gamely reveals that she has ‘far more commercial taste buds. I’m a genetic anomaly. Where my father adores dark chocolate, I like milk and white.’ the theatre producer, who
lives in LA, offered her services when her fat her decided to open his own shop after parting ways with the chocolatier William Curley, with whom he was previously in business, ‘not for a second thinking they would be called upon ’. Her sis a creative role, en compassing the design of the shops, window displays, product development and packaging. Remembering her own childhood treats of ice-cream sundaes and cakes, she ‘wanted the Belg ravia boutique to sum up those special, wonderful feelings towards chocolate; to be nostalgic, almost’ .Wallpapers bear heritage patterns with a modern, metallic glint, while at the door a vin- ta ge dress er displays rows of bars wrapped in pillar-box-red paper. ‘The colour has a celebrator y feel, which is exactly how I felt about chocolate as a child,’ Jessica says. Glass jars of florentines and pinwheel palmiers add sweetshop appeal.
This year, barely 12 months since it was founded, R Chocolate’s 42 per cent milk-chocolate bar and sea-salt caramel chocolate have both won bronze at the Academy of Chocolate awards. The latter will star on the brand’s dessertbar menu, along wit h peanut-butter
chocolate mousse and tarte Tatin, when it launches later in the year. Already, customers can try their hand at making sea-salt caramels, the Black Forest ingot and classic truffles at workshops that take place downstairs in Belgravia.
The chocolate itself is sourced from Orig inal Beans, an et hically minded producer t hat pla nt s t rees in cocoaproducing regions. Meanwhile, a percentage of t he sales of R Chocolate’s Heritage Elephant range (shaped caramels in white, milk and dark) is donated to Elepha nt Fa mily, a conser vat ion charity supported by Sir Evelyn. There a re pla ns for supper club s, br unch menus and seasonal updates to the boutique’s high-tea menus – all in celebration of chocolate’s role, as Jessica puts it, as ‘a wonderful life enhancer’.
Right Sir Evelyn de Rothschild with his daughter, Jessica. Opposite Sea-salt caramels from their brand R Chocolate’s Heritage Elephant range