Bracing herself for the silly season is Susan Vize, new owner of Chocolate Brown in Warkworth. She and partner Des had only moved into Warkworth three days before taking over the award-winning café and chocolate shop four months ago. Now they’re up to their ears in Christmas orders and their packing team are working overtime.
Her team of chocolatiers is run by long-time manager Ghia Mitchell. There’s Daniel Edwards, the ‘wizard on colour and hollows’; Tim Uhlworm is the caramel, cake and fudge king, and new arrival Karin Cabré, a young Swiss-trained chocolatière with an obsession about the Lord of the Rings. “Every time Karin sees new editions of the books she has to buy them. She was completely blown away when she found out we lived in Rivendell Place,” giggles Susan.
She’s keeping all the regulars’ favourite snacks including the famous melting cheese rolls and sausage rolls, but making much more delicious gluten-free food – particularly on their new ‘Gluten-Free Wednesdays’.
The couple used to run a small hotel in Martinborough and love the similar community vibe of Warkworth. Susan’s already on the board of Matakana Coast Tourism. “It’s no good just promoting yourself,” she says rather sternly. “You have to work together for the good of the whole area.”
The shop’s tinkling with tasteful tinsel already and the Christmas chocolate specials are to die for: eggnog or Christmas cake fudge, gold-dusted scarlet-shelled gingerbread pralines, mulled wine truffles with handmade holly leaves on top, whisky truffle figs covered in dark chocolate, and cherries in kirsch truffles, sprinkled with gold dust. Pure Christmas magic.
6 Mill Ln, Warkworth 0941, 09-422 2677