Willy Wonka famously had his chocolate factory, and now a Neath confectioner has opened his version – in his back garden.
When former bakery manager Gareth Davies launched his eponymous chocolate enterprise, little did he think ‘Delicious Delights by Gareth’ would mushroom into thriving full-time family business.
It all began with a raspberry ruffle Gareth made for his wife Lyn, now Gareth produces nearly 3,000 chocolates and sweet treats each week.
“I hadn’t made chocolates before, but Lyn likes raspberry ruffles, and I thought I’d give it a go,” says Gareth, who – along with Lyn – spent 25 years working for supermarket giant, Tesco.
Such was the popularity of his chocolates, fudge and brownies among family and friends that Gareth and Lyn took the plunge and with the help of their family created their confectionary business.
“We use the finest Belgian chocolate,” says Gareth, “I find recipes and then tweak them and try different flavours.”
In order to accommodate the increasing demand for their chocolates, the couple has built a production unit at their home. As well as providing extra space, the unit helps to separate home and work life.
“It is much easier,” says Gareth, “the unit is twice the size of our home kitchen. Now when I’ve finished making chocolates, I can close the door and go into the house to cook tea!”
From those first chocolates, there is now an impressive array of handmade chocolates, fudge and brownies which are sold at markets and festivals.
Truffle flavours include Lemon, Hazelnut, Baileys Salted Caramel, Prosecco – and of course Raspberry! There are Triple Chocolate, Rocky Road, and Hazelnut Brownies, as well as Gareth’s fabulous fudges – such as Rum & Raison, Vanilla, Chocolate Swirl, and Cherry Bakewell.
This weekend Delicious Delights by Gareth will be on home territory, at Neath Food Festival (October 4-6), and Gareth and Lyn are busy preparing for the three-day event.
So, what’s the most popular chocolate in Gareth’s home town?
“Hazelnut Truffle,” he says, “favourites can change from week to week and place to place, but in Neath it is the Hazelnut Truffle. Although, we will be launching a new Gingerbread Truffle at the food festival – so who knows, maybe that will become the new favourite?”
Delicious Delights by Gareth is being helped to develop by Cywain – a business-led programme delivered by Menter a Busnes. Cywain is dedicated to developing new and existing micro-businesses and SMEs in the Welsh food and drink sector, focusing on maximising opportunities and growth potential.
With Cywain, Delicious Delights by Gareth had the opportunity to sell directly to the public at its most significant event so far – the Royal Welsh Show – where the company was featured on the Cywain stand in the Food Hall.
“We’ve had great advice and support from Cywain, and they’re helping us to grow and to access new markets.”
Says Lowri Edwards, Cywain Development Manager,
“We are delighted to see how Delicious Delights by Gareth has grown over the last two years and it’s great to see the new unit being developed, enabling them to increase production and access new markets with their chocolates. We look forward to supporting them further along their journey.”