Pastry chef at Josophan's Fine Chocolates – Leura, AustraliaJodie Van Der Velden
“The family bakery in our backyard was my playground as a child. I remember my mother telling me I would be an inventor. Playing with chocolate felt almost therapeutic. When life threw me a curveball, I considered changing my career. When I had the opportunity to start my store in the Unesco World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park, I jumped at it. I risked everything and opened Josophan’s Fine Chocolates in early 2005.
“When I’m alone and experimenting with new recipes I’m at my happiest. There is a flow that transcends time and place. I play loud music, dance badly and just create. It’s wonderful.”
Growing up, there was always an emphasis on natural food. This fuelled my desire to make handcrafted chocolates with natural flavour infusions, without preservatives. To know I’m making a difference in people’s lives, right from the cacao farmer being treated fairly, our raw product sourced sustainably, to making a customer’s day… that makes me smile. I’ve spent much time exploring. From cacao plantations in the Caribbean, West Indies, Central America and Africa to chocolate factories in Europe. Championing the cause of ethical trade and seeing how it positively impacts growers is so fulfilling. I do it for the light bulb moment when a customer’s mouth is filled with a natural mint infused ganache... Maybe making someone fall in love with something unusual to them like a lime and basil ganache, or chilli! Hey, I guess I finally became an inventor.”