I am disappointed to learn that after 17 years of chocolate wizardry and culinary magic (and to-die-for chocolate brownies), Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates has shut its doors for the last time.
In a message on Instagram, business owner Paul stated "it was an incredible journey" and there were "lots of ups, lots of downs, and lots of excitement" over the years.
Paul thanked his loyal customers and suppliers, too.
Paul, together his business partner, James Cronin, opened their first shop on Camden Passage in Islington in 2006, starting with the longstanding customer favourite of sea salted caramels. In the following years, the brand grew to three shops, and offered a mail order service, although it was hesitant to launch online.
In 2020, Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates finally went digital, launching its online shop, just as the Coronavirus pandemic took hold. In recent years, both the stores on Wardour Street, Soho, and Royal Exchange (near Bank station) closed, leaving just the Islington store remaining.
I visited the tiny shop last year to stock up on my favourites. But now, this sadly shut its doors for the final time on 31st July 2023, marking the end of an era and a great loss for the chocolate world as well as the chocolate scene in London.
Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates had a great reputation for delivering incredible flavours and wow factor, often surprising customers with left field flavour combinations. It became my favourite chocolate haunt when visiting London for this very reason as I love quirky chocolate flavours.
While I never got the chance to meet the legend himself, Paul came across as down to earth and passionate about his craft in his many appearances on national television and social media, often sharing recipes and tips.
I'm gutted to see the business close (as are hundreds of well-wishers on social media) but wish Paul and his team the very best for their next steps in their own adventures.
No details have been released on why the business has closed, but you only need to talk to your local chocolatier to discover it's been a very tough, rough few years for the chocolate industry as a whole, and the future looks bleak right now.
The Coronavirus pandemic caused the world to stop in its tracks, with many bricks and mortar businesses burdened with enormous overheads. Many businesses took to the digital world, which also saw a boom in new talent as pastry chefs and hobbyists looked to cash in on their talents to pay the bills.
When the world eventually unlocked, it was a vastly different place, with changing shopping habits afoot. Post-Brexit and post-Covid, the UK's economy has been volatile, with the cost of living crisis and spiralling interest and inflation rates eating away at disposable income, turning the screws on so many chocolate businesses. The uncertainty over the Russia and Ukraine crisis has fed global inflation, meaning the costs of ingredients such as cocoa and sugar are rocketing, putting even more pressure on small businesses.
Together, it's a horrendous cocktail for many chocolate businesses, and I expect many will either shut up shop or streamline stores and product ranges in the coming months and years.
While we may never know why Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates closed down, there is still a way you can enjoy Paul A. Young chocolates at home, and that's through his cookery books. Roll up your sleeves and get cooking!
Paul A. Young Books
Adventures with Chocolate
- Published in 2012
- ISBN: 085783083X and 978-0857830838
- 144 pages
- 80 recipes
You'll find 80 chocolate recipes to keep you busy here, including Wild Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn Truffles, Sea-salted Caramel Tart, and a Chocolate Martini.
Don't miss: Paul's world-famous brownies
Adventures with Chocolate
- Published in 2016
- ISBN: 1908337346 and 978-1908337344
- 144 pages
- 60 recipes
This collaborative effort sees Paul guide you through a journey of 50 celebrities, including Emma Thompson, Darcey Bussell, Ollie Dabbous, Glenn Cosby, Giorgio Locatelli, and Natasha Corrett, through a wonderful world of chocolate treats.
Recipe highlights include chocolate brownie pudding, salted caramel chocolate cheesecake, marmalade and prune chocolate cake, chocolate bark, and orange chocolate truffles.
This book was developed to help raise funds for a second air ambulance helicopter for The Children's Air Ambulance.
The Joy of Chocolate
- Published in 2022
- ISBN: 085783990X and 978-0857839909
- 208 pages
- 40 recipes
Less cookery book and more memoir, this book explores Paul's culinary history, and imparts information, tips and techniques on all things chocolate.
The book does weave in 40 recipes including 21 of his "very best" recipes for you to try at home.
The Joy of Chocolate
Sensational Chocolate: 50 Celebrities Share 60 Recipes by Paul A Young (Hardcove
Paul A Young as seen on the BBC2 TV series The Sweet Makers has published this book in collaboration with The Childrens Air Ambulance. Master Chocolatier Paul A Young has assembled a glittering array of friends and colleagues who have contributed to this collection of glorious recipes.
Sensational Chocolate by Paul A. Young (Hardback, 2016) Recipe Book Brand New
Sensational Chocolate. (Hardback, 2016). as seen on the BBC2 TV series The Sweet Makers has published this book in collaboration with The Children's Air Ambulance. Master Chocolatier Paul A Young has assembled a glittering array of friends and colleagues who have contributed to this collection of glorious recipes.
£12.99 + £2.90 postage
The Joy of Chocolate 9780857839909 Paul A. Young - Free Tracked Delivery
A comprehensive, step-by-step guide to creating delicious chocolates and fillings from scratch by a master chocolatier Written by one of the UK’s most celebrated master chocolatiers, and a presenter on the BBC2 TV series The Sweet Makers, this guide showcases how to make delicious chocolates from scratch in your own kitchen. This delightfully decadent book is a love letter to chocolate, from the very fundamentals of what is chocolate and how to taste and buy, to achieving a world-class shine and blending flavor like a pro. It explains clearly and with creativity, so that by the end of the book, anyone from beginner to confident cook will be able to make the very best chocolate recipes.
What will you miss most about Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates? Let me know in a comment below.