01/11/2005 - 21:00

Sweet art from a chocolate palette

01/11/2005 - 21:00

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From his Kingsley kitchen-cum-showroom, Brett Coddington practices an increasingly rare culinary art form. A pastry chef of 27 years, Mr Coddington is a chocolate artisan at the top of his game.

Sweet art from a chocolate palette

From his Kingsley kitchen-cum-showroom, Brett Coddington practices an increasingly rare culinary art form. A pastry chef of 27 years, Mr Coddington is a chocolate artisan at the top of his game.

Business is booming for Chocolate Art, the venture he started five years ago. As new hospitality apprentices shy away from this style of work, and hotels outsource their pastry needs, Mr Coddington’s services are in great demand.

Cutting his teeth as pastry chef and chocolatier at Observation City for four years, by his own account Mr Coddington says he “got pretty good at working with chocolate”. So good, in fact, that in 1998 he was part of a team that won the 11th FHA International Salon Culinaire competition for ‘best national team award for dessert’.

Mr Coddington started his business after realising the potential for a business catering to a niche market of private and corporate chocolate artistry.

Chocolate Art began as a way of servicing an industry that is being progressively abandoned. Chocolate can be a temperamental mistress and the work is frequently laborious and repetitive. As a result, fewer and fewer students are prepared to follow this path.

Yet demand for this style of product continues. Chocolate boxes, garnishes and giftware remain popular as corporate gifts and among promotional media, while business event centrepieces and even invitations to events are now being themed with chocolate.

And the reason is because with chocolate, imagination is the only limitation to creation.

No other food, certainly no dessert, conjures up as many heady, romantic notions as chocolate. There may be an Easter boom every year, but it is the ingredient of choice, whether in wedding and birthday cakes, or as a corporate logo advertising an event.

“I would do 18 to 20 wedding and birthday cakes a week,” Mr Coddington says. “The rest of the business is corporate.”

Chocolate Art customises handmade chocolate products for promotional, corporate or business events. Any logo, literally anything, can be created with chocolate. Using 3D modelling and imaging software, Mr Coddington has to be part engineer, part artist, part construction chief and pastry cook.

Some memorable jobs include devising a way to make 20 chocolate winged keels for chocolate replicas of the ‘Australia 2’ for a recently held commemorative function of the boat’s win.

Regular corporate customers include Telstra Rally Australia, the Johnnie Walker Classic, Telethon, Australia Post, The Vines Resort, and the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Chances are that if you’ve seen a corporate logo in chocolate recently, it came from Chocolate Art.

Saying he is often unable to meet the ever-increasing number of requests from corporate clients each week, Mr Coddington believes the shortages of chocolatiers is due to a lack of influence and interest.

“In the past, you had a lot of European chefs coming to Australia to teach and work; now there is not so much of that influence here in Australia,” he says.

“The problem is that with hotels out-sourcing these types of jobs more and more, apprentices aren’t being given the chance to learn the trade.

“There will always be a niche for this kind of work but the industry isn’t attracting the talent.”

At the end of the day, however, Mr Coddington says it is the feeling of job satisfaction that makes his business so rewarding.

“Seeing people getting their cakes, it’s an unreal buzz that I don’t think I will ever get tired of.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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