In the heart of Soho, talented chocolatier Paul A Young has opened his third chocolate shop, a corner site on Wardour Street with an eye-catching façade painted in Young’s hallmark deep purple. Inside the theatrically stylish shop a central table holds an inviting display of Paul’s trademark truffles, an appealing array of shapes and colours. Noted for his adventurous and creative approach to chocolate-making, the new summer collection offers characteristically striking truffle creations such as passion fruit curd and coffee, coconut water and lemon grass and carrot cake.
Making the most of his Soho location, Young is using ingredients sourced from the local food shops, so fresh basil, olive oil and tomato passata from Italian deli I Camisa and coffee from veteran Old Compton Street establishment, the Algerian Coffee Stores.
Looking weary but happy, Young told us “We’ve been working day and night for weeks, not only getting the shop ready but preparing the stock. When you make chocolates by hand as we do, it takes a lot of time.” The downstairs basement area has been transformed into a kitchen and workroom area in which Young and his staff will hand-make the chocolates to be sold in the shop.
“The building was in a terrible state, with crumbling wall,” he explains, “Everything had been neglected for decades. We’ve used whiterock cladding on the walls, the same as hospitals use, and put in a seamless floor, so everything can be cleaned thoroughly and easily. There’s more space for us to do a lot more, from workshops to special events. We’ve got air-conditioning to keep the shop nice and cool. We need that for the shop as the two big windows we’ve put in let in a lot of light. This is my third shop, so I’ve learnt what to do.”
For Young being an artisan chocolatier, making everything by hand, is at the heart of what he does. “ The chocolates we make here will be sold in this shop.. We’re not centralising,” he declares firmly.” We’ve never going to change how we do things. That’s our ethos.”
Young’s creativity has expressed itself not only in his chocolates but in the shop’s characterful appearance. “ We didn’t have a generic shop fit – that’s so boring. We spent ages looking for interesting bits of furniture to use in the shop. The counter in the shop is a deconsecrated altar. People do worship chocolate, after all!”
Young feels very excited about his new West End venture. “People have been watching us get the shop ready. There’s a lot of interest. I think this area suits a chocolate shop like this - a shop which is edgy, boutiquey and personal.”
Paul A Young's new store is at 143 Wardour Street and is open seven days a week.