Since 2018, we have been working with world-renowned, master chocolatier and patissier, William Curley. Over the past year, he has created a variety of incredible chocolates and pastries for our venues, as well as hosted chocolate-themed supper-clubs and workshops, and curated beautiful afternoon teas.
William Curley trained with some of the country’s finest chefs, including Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc, before joining The Savoy Hotel, where he became the youngest Chef Patissier in its history. He opened his own business over a decade ago, selling the finest quality chocolate creations, and achieved the Master of Culinary Arts by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts – the highest accolade awarded to chefs in the UK, with only seven patissiers achieving the award.
You can purchase William’s delicious creations on his online store.
TALKING WITH WILLIAM
We have caught up with William to talk all things chocolate and to learn a little more about his inspiration behind his wonderful creations.
When did you fall in love with working with chocolate?
I’ve always enjoyed chocolate and it has always been a big part of my life. As my career evolved, I started to find out more about fine chocolate and high-quality chocolate – about what really should be in chocolate. So, it’s been a little journey for me from the very beginning. The point in my career that chocolate became a major part was when I was working in two and three Michelin star restaurants in the early 90s. Rather than using common cooking chocolate, they were using higher-end, higher-cocoa, pure cocoa butter, and that was when I realised that the market is very polarised. When you get to the higher echelons of the market, like companies such as Amedei who I work with, only use pure cacao.
Where do you get your inspiration for your creations?
There’s a wide range of things I draw inspiration from. Firstly, it is my previous experience as a chef. The other source of inspiration is seeing different things, whether that is through travel, or meeting people, or going to someone else’s shop. I may be travelling to Cornwall and see clotted cream or sea salt and take inspiration to create something with those ingredients.
What was your favourite chocolate when you were a child?
I loved Jaffa Cakes when I was a kid; I love the sponge, the jam and the chocolate on the top – I still think that it is a great creation. My grandmother also used to make millionaires shortbread in Scotland, and I loved the buttery biscuit, the caramel and the chocolate on the top. I am also partial to Bounty bars, and we make our own take on the Bounty, so I like that combination. We create quite a lot of chocolates playing on nostalgia and our childhood favourites.
What’s the most extravagant creation you’ve ever made?
I once had to make a chocolate Jesus for a graffiti artist in Bristol. It was about ten-foot-tall, that was kind of fun and is probably one of the most bizarre things that I have done.
What’s your favourite chocolate you make for Searcys?
Oh, I like them all, it’s like asking what your favourite child is! The one I like the most to eat is the St Pancras Richmond Park Honey Chocolate. I love honey; I love the fact that it is an ingredient coming from where I come from, bees are also incredibly important in terms of sustainability and our future, so I suppose it ticks all the boxes.
Almost all of my chocolates are dairy-based, and I love infusing the cream. We take cream and, if it’s for rosemary chocolate, will infuse the rosemary into the fresh cream by boiling it together to draw the flavour out from the rosemary. Then we will discard the rosemary and use the remaining flavour as the base. I love that process of infusing ingredients to draw out the natural flavour.
Where are your chocolates made?
We have been making chocolates commercially since 2004. I started initially in a little shop in Richmond which I had for 9 years. As the business grew, we moved to a little kitchen in Twickenham and then we moved back to Acton, and we’ve just moved back to Twickenham. We have a little kitchen on an island on the River Thames called Swan Island; you have to go over a bridge to get onto the island so it’s quite quirky.
After a year with Searcys what has been your favourite moment?
Working at the Gherkin – the views from the Gherkin are very iconic over London, I guess that would be the moment that ticked all the boxes.