My name is Sophia Winslade and I have 9 years’ experience of working with chocolate, which includes retail, events and the making of chocolate.
I have always enjoyed art and studied Decorative Arts at university which was when I decided that my career path would be using my creative and practical skills. Before deciding on a career in chocolate, I had a number of hospitality jobs as well as catering in ski-chalets during the ski-season – ski-ing being my other passion!
My chocolate adventure started when working with Rumsey’s Chocolaterie in Buckinghamshire which is where I learned the art of chocolate making. I trained for 2 years learning how to temper chocolate, make caramels, ganaches, chocolate fans and create handmade chocolates. In addition, I learned how to make moulded chocolates for the various seasonal times of the year, eg Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.
I then moved to London and worked initially in the Chocolate Department at Harrods where I learned all about the retail side of chocolates. This was a very enlightening experience and it taught me a great deal as well as giving me new skills. However, my real passion is learning more about chocolate and so my next move was to Hotel Chocolat.
I worked as one of their Events’ Chocolatiers hosting workshops in their School of Chocolate based in Covent Garden. Here I increased my knowledge and learned about their cocoa plantation in St Lucia and the whole process of the cocoa bean resulting in the chocolate we know today. Teaching people about chocolate, explaining how to savour and get the most out of tasting the different types of chocolate was very rewarding. The groups would range in ages and in numbers, sometimes up to 30 people at a time (one time, 50!). We would hold workshops on the London Eye, did many external annual events such as the BAFTAS, Salon Du Chocolat and corporate office parties.
After 2.5 years with Hotel Chocolat I took a break and focussed on my other passion, skiing! I did 2 seasons as a chalet-chef and afterwards returned to London and worked for a time at Melt Chocolates based in Notting Hill.
A small boutique chocolate shop making their own handmade chocolates and delivering workshops for children and adults. I was hired as one of their small team of 4 chocolatiers making chocolates for the shop, online purchasing and their concession at Selfridges. This allowed me to re-kindle my interest in making chocolates as well as continuing with hosting workshops.
While setting up my business and navigating my way through covid I got a part time job with Rococo Chocolates working in their pop up shops in Bicester Village. This was another British chocolate company to add to my bow. As you can imagine my CV is now very chocolatey. :)
POD Chocolate Experiences was born out of my desire to branch out on my own and after learning from all the top chocolate companies, I was ready to run my own business my way.