We Kiwis love our chocolate, but our tastes aren't particularly sophisticated. Kiwi chocolatier and founder of The Sweetest Little Chocolate Shop, Stu Jordan, reckons New Zealand is at least two years behind Australia and almost a decade behind Europe in terms of premium chocolate trends.
“The New Zealand market is only now stepping away from traditional standard blocks of white, milk and dark chocolate towards chocolate that shows ingenuity in terms of flavour, design, texture and aroma."
Nonetheless, we're getting there, and the fact that he's just opened his third branch in Sylvia Park (there are also stores in Auckland central and Hamilton) is evidence of that.
“We’re expanding as the market booms around us,” says Jordan. “There’s an increased demand in premium chocolates as people become more aware of what they’re eating.”
Planning is underway to open a fourth Sweetest Little Chocolate Shop in March (location undisclosed) and he hopes to get up to 25 around the country before looking abroad – most likely beginning with Asia.
"My goal is to show the world that NZ chocolate can be the best in the world."
At the Sylvia Park branch, the red, yellow and chocolate cracked walls suggest you've just tumbled down Alice’s
rabbit hole (in a good way).
“We’re creating a space where art and chocolate meet,” he says.
Jordan founded the business in 2009 after a redundancy, and the following year, the national franchise model was born.
The stores stock more than 25 brands and have perhaps the most extensive range of gourmet New Zealand chocolate in the world, he says. That includes his own creation Kako Chocolate, a division of The Sweetest Little Chocolate Shop retail network. Jordan travelled overseas for training and the range he devised as a result is handmade in batches from natural ingredients.