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The End of an Era: London’s Paul A. Young Shuts Up Shop

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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 A. Young Islington Shop
The first - and final - Paul A. Young shop in Camden Passage, Islington

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

Paul A Young Adventures with Chocolate Book
Adventures with Chocolate

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

See it on Amazon

Sensational 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.

Sensational Chocolate

See it on Amazon

Paul A Young Sensational Chocolate Book
Sensational Chocolate

Paul A Young The Joy of Chocolate Book
The Joy of Chocolate

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

See it on Amazon

Found on eBay

What will you miss most about Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates? Let me know in a comment below.

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