Life is sweet
R Chocolate on Ebury Street is a sweet-toothed paradise. Owner and chocoholic Sir Evelyn de Rothschild explains how rationing sealed his sugary fate
During the war, the Nazis, working on the assumption that rationed confectionary would render a mere morsel of chocolate irresistible to all, hatched a plan to kill Churchill with a booby-trapped bar of chocolate.
The plan was that an agent would somehow smuggle it into the Cabinet war rooms, and the silver paper, once peeled back, would trigger the explosion.
It may seem now like a plot out of ‘Allo ‘Allo, but it was a seriously evil intent wrapped in sweetness. It was, of course, a failure. The plot was rustled by MI5 anti-sabotage expert Victor Rothschild, who then commissioned a poster of the chocolate bar to warn of similar food-based explosives. In further investigations and attempts to thwart assassination plots, Victor investigated suspicious cigars sent to the Prime Minister, and his dismantling of a bomb hidden in a cargo of Spanish onions prompted Churchill to recommend him for a George Medal.
Had the Germans checked more thoroughly, they might have discovered that Churchill’s tooth was not as sweet as imagined, although he could be partial to a tin of mandarin slices.
It was, however, war rationing that sealed Sir Evelyn de Rothschild’s fate as a lifelong chocoholic. The young Sir Evelyn (Victor Rothchild’s cousin) had a sweet tooth that the rationed Barley sugars helped to assuage, but it was the far more elusive chocolate that he craved.
Such is Sir Evelyn’s lifelong love and passion for the sweet stuff that the octogenarian financier can regularly now be found at R Chocolate, the cosy chocolatier and patissier he opened in Ebury Street just over a year ago, enjoying a hot chocolate (the thicker the better and he eschews tea and coffee, apparently) and enthusiastically encouraging customers to share in the chocolate joy:
“It has always been a huge passion of mine ever since I was a young child. During the war my father gave me and my sister sweet coupons; we loved getting chocolate as a special treat. I have always had a sweet tooth. But dark chocolate is my favourite these days,” he tells me.
And his favourite chocolate ever? “It has to be the R Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Elephant.”
The R Chocolate Heritage Elephant Range are shaped caramels, with various flavours available in either white, milk or dark chocolate. A percentage of the sales is donated to Elephant Family, a conservation charity Sir Evelyn enthusiastically supports. The chocolate itself has been ethically sourced from Original Beans, a producer that takes pains to plant trees in cocoa growing regions.
The venture, a joint effort between Sir Evelyn and immediate family members including his wife Lady Lynn and daughter Jessica, has already notched up a couple of gongs from the Academy of Chocolate Awards, with Sea-salt caramel chocolate and R Chocolate’s 42 per cent milk chocolate bar both winning bronze. Pretty good going for the new kid on the chocolate block.
There are desserts available, with such irresistible offerings as peanut-butter chocolate mousse and tarte Tatin. Customers can already participate in workshops downstairs and try their hand at producing their own truffles. An afternoon tea features such delights as chocolate infused sparkling wine, with 80 per cent Grand Cru mousse on a pistachio biscuit with a sea salt caramel centre on a hazelnut biscuit, raspberry trifle, chocolate loaf cake, cherry Battenberg, strawberry and champagne mousse and lemon drizzle. No sweet tooth is left wanting.
Sir Evelyn certainly enjoys spending plenty of time at R Chocolate, savouring the nostalgic atmosphere and wares: “I’II always try to pop into the store and enjoy our chocolate whenever I can.”
Even when he is away from home it seems there’s no place like R Chocolate: “Whenever we are abroad I look forward to coming back to Belgravia for Chocolate!”
For Sir Evelyn, it seems chocolate is close to his heart and is a way of spreading a little joy: “Yes, absolutely, chocolate spreads happiness and joy all year round!”
And Christmas is coming: “This year we are producing a chocolate Christmas tree, personalised boxes of chocolates where you can include a message to your loved ones in chocolate, fantastic advent calendars, a range of three different Christmas hampers and our Christmas flavoured chocolates – ginger bread, sloe gin and spiced orange.
There is no mistaking or underestimating quite how much chocolate means to Sir Evelyn, but he is particularly proud of having created R Chocolate with his family: “Chocolate is a real passion of mine and I’m proud that R Chocolate has been a family effort with my daughter, Jessica, creating all of the fantastic branding and designing the beautiful store in Belgravia, and my wife, Lynn, chairing the business. I’m very excited to see R Chocolate go from strength to strength.”
R Chocolate, 198 Ebury Street