It is with deep envy that I read blog posts like a recent one on Not Quite Nigella that describes yet another gorgeous Sydney boutique chocolatier as, aside from our much loved Haigh’s, they are fairly thin on the ground here in Adelaide. So my pleasure knew no bounds when I came across Steven ter Horst during SA’s recent “Tasting Australia” extravaganza. My fate was sealed with one bite of his delicious salted caramel creation and I realised that I needed to know more about Steven and his product!
Steven ter Horst sells his remarkable chocolates at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market – a brilliant showcase for our multitude of talented local food producers. Not wishing to let myself down through a lack of research, I took myself down the hill one recent wintry morning and had a very happy time wandering through the stalls filling my shopping bag before tracking down Steven’s stand and agonizing over the selection. As a loving wife and mother, I picked out enough to take home and share, but “the road to hell etc., etc.” and I found myself hiding them so that I could secretly eat the lot. Which I did.
A week or so later I found Steven in his workshop which is, in fact, a studio at the front of his house in an inner suburb. It is shiny, spare and clean with the smell of chocolate and toasted nuts rich in the air. Tall and friendly, Steven has always harboured dreams of chocolate – as an adolescent he used to buy cheap Easter eggs, take them home and melt them down to reshape them. In his high school forays into work experience he spent some time in restaurant kitchens, thinking to pursue a career as a chef, but the harsh realities of a busy professional kitchen soon changed his mind and he wandered off into the wilderness for some years. Eventually his dreams caught up with him and he found himself spending time buying chocolate again – not Easter egg chocolate, though – and taking it home to play with. This time he decided to take it a (fairly big) step forward and enrolled at a chocolate and patisserie school in Melbourne where he honed his skills and absorbed as much information as he could.
Taking inspiration from some of the worlds greatest chocolatiers, like Spain’s Ramon Morato, Steven produces chocolates that would certainly stand comparisons with European contemporaries. He uses only high quality imported Belgian chocolate, blending two separate brands of couverture chocolate to his own preference, but he is passionate about scrupulously sourcing the very best of local dairy, fruit and nuts for the rich flavours he develops. His attention to detail is complete and each of his creations is designed from the ground up. The ideas for new flavours come to him by various means and each takes up to six months to get from the concept in his head to the finished product. He is a true craftsman and the entire experience of each chocolate is artfully fashioned from the first “pop” as the shell of 70% enrobing chocolate breaks in the mouth, through the mouthfeel of the handmade ganache, marzipan, praline or fruit pate, to the final lingering finish of chocolate on the palate.
Steven presently fits his chocolate making in around his day job, but expects to be changing that quite soon. He is currently looking at some properties on the outskirts of the CBD and hopes to have his own store up and running before Christmas. While I love the Farmers Market, it is only open for half a day a week, so a retail outlet can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned!