Willie Harcourt-Cooze at the Temple Bar Chocolate Festival

Temple Bar Chocolate Festival “Try not to drool too much!” That was the Husband’s parting shot as I left the cottage, en route to interview Willie Harcourt-Cooze at the Temple Bar Chocolate Festival on Saturday. It’s not that I have the habit of going weak at the knees with my interviewees, no matter how charismatic – while at Savour New Zealand I managed Anthony Bourdain without so much as a missed heartbeat – but the Husband knew how much Willie’s Channel 4 programmes had drawn me in, had witnessed my initially fruitless search for the 100% cacao bars in Ireland and had sourced a very well-received stash of those and the just-released chocolate bars for my birthday.

Did I mention that I also bought a copy of Willie’s cookbook as soon as it came out? And that his hot chocolate is the afternoon pick-me-up of choice at the cottage? And that his cacao gets grated into and on top of many dishes (especially eggs fried in chilli oil) as we, as exhorted to by Mr Harcourt-Cooze, keep one of the bars on the worktop, next to the olive oil, salt and pepper? Hmm…maybe the Husband did have a point.

After the calm of the cottage, there was a real buzz on the streets of Temple Bar on Saturday with the weekly food, book and design markets taking place alongside the weekend-long chocolate festival. It had started on Friday with a variety of workshops, including one on truffle making with Gillian from Some Say Cocoa, Some Say Cacao, and a screening of the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The workshops continued on Saturday, alongside master chocolatier Benoit Lorge‘s cooking demonstrations and Willie’s own talk on his adventures in making chocolate, from bean to bar.

While a lot of the events took indoors, the festival was made visible on the streets on Saturday by MaSamba Samba School’s Chocolate Caravan, drumming oompa loompas (pictured) roaming the streets of Temple Bar. Sunday was Chocolate Fair day but I was long gone by the stage, my interview with Willie on tape and the transcription started. He was a pleasure to talk to, the encounter sweetened by the fact that he turned up with some of his new chocolate releases for me to try. I’m a sucker for good chocolate, even when it’s not delivered by a charming man. And the interview? That’s coming up soon in the Mail on Sunday. I’ll let you know.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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7 Responses

  1. Gillian says:

    Yes do … I’d love to hear what he had to say … and also what you thought of the latest chocolate bars. I didn’t get to his talk: it was Willie or Benoit Lorge and I picked the latter. I reckoned that I’d seen lots of Willie on the telly. And Lorge is quite the wiz with the tempered chocolate.

  2. Caroline says:

    I was reading your own entry on Benoit and it seems like his workshop was really good. Although I didn’t make it to that, I did manage to pick up a bag of his truffles in Fallon & Byrne to bring home to the Husband. They are such a treat, amazing quality and flavours. I do think that his are the best chocolates available in Ireland at the moment.

  3. I loved all the events on Saturday and The Truffle Fairy at the Market on Sunday had a dark choc truffle made with Willie’s chocolate (see my choc festival blog post), delicious! Looking forward to reading the interview, will it be online too? Have you tried any savoury dishes with chocolate which you can recommend?

  4. Jo says:

    Oh, I fancied him so much! Didn’t hear about his visit til too late :(Where’s the interview??

  5. Rosemary Gallagher says:

    Can anyone tell me where you can buy willie harcourt cooze chocolate.

  6. Caroline says:

    The interview is for the Mail on Sunday and, as soon as I know when it will be published, I’ll let you all know!In terms of savoury chocolate dishes, I’d definitely recommend the simplest eggs fried in chilli oil, cacao grated over fried eggs and it’s also a great addition to Mexican Beans. We tend to grate it on or into stews and casseroles too.Where are you based Rosemary? In Cork, I’ve tracked the chocolate down at the Gubbeen stall in Mahon Point Farmer’s Market and it’s also available at The Chocolate Shop in the English Market. In Dublin I know you can find it at Harvey Nichols and I think that Avoca and Brown Thomas stock the bars as well. You could also buy it direct from Willie’s own shop.

  7. Diane says:

    Hi, I have just stumbled across your blog. I’m from NZ and they have just started screening the willies chocolate factory story. Love it !!! I have searched online and found his website and I was thinking of getting his cookbook and some chocolate from his online shop, since i think it will be a while till we see it out here. Anyway can you tell me what is the best 100% bar to buy to make his recipes with ?

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