A gold medal-winning chocolate expert is helping North Wales youngsters become real smarties – by mastering maths and science skills in the kitchen.
Chef Stephen Hewitt runs chocolate workshops for youngsters at his cafe in Colwyn Bay as well as heading into schools to reveal the arts of a professional chocolatier.
The youngsters design their own delicious sweet figures and funky chocolate bars while gaining a new slant on numeracy and science skills.
Stephen runs Hewitt’s Cafe in Conway Road in Colwyn Bay’s West End, where he whips up all kinds of culinary creations, including pizzas, mouth-watering pastries, afternoon teas, his famous House Hot Chocolate plus bespoke wedding and birthday cakes.
The 43-year-old keen surfer, who hails from Devon, said: “There is a lot more to our chocolate workshops than just making and eating chocolate, however enjoyable that may be.
“We also cover numeracy, such as weighing ingredients and working out cooking times, and of course there is lots of science too. The children learn how and why we temper chocolate so the pure cocoa butter crystallises properly.
“I teach pupils where the ingredients we put into chocolate come from and let them try the ingredients in their raw state.”
He has run workshops at Ysgol Tudno in Llandudno and is just back from working with a Cardiff junior and infant school, where he taught children how chocolate is made and how to design their own sweet figures.
Stephen opened his cafe two years ago, originally as Choc ‘o’ Art, but changed the name to Hewitt’s Cafe to save confusion.
He said: “Lots of people didn’t realise what we did and that it was actually a cafe. Most people thought it was a cake shop. By changing the name we have attracted a lot of new customers, many of whom have become regulars.
“We sell coffee and tea, lots of home-made cakes, pastries and pizzas. And we have a daily specials board. It’s starting to take off and we are becoming busier. I still make wedding and birthday cakes and my passion still is, and always will be, chocolate.
“I started out as a pastry chef at a four star hotel in Guernsey, The St Pierre. I began work in the pastry kitchen and within three years I was the head pastry chef.
“I’ve also worked at a five star hotel in Cairns, Australia, plus Bodysgallen Hall Hotel in Llandudno and the Kinmel Arms in St George. Plus I gave lectures and ran chocolate workshops for Bodnant Welsh Food Centre’s cookery school.
Stephen added: “I want Hewitt’s cafe to be a big Colwyn Bay success. We need to attract customers to the area and give consumers what they want – a wide range of independent small businesses offering bespoke and quality products.
“I believe what I’m doing at Hewitt’s Cafe, including my workshops and chocolate parties, is helping promote the area as a good place to visit and shop and that we really do offer something a little bit different.”
He also runs classes for adults, demonstrating how to create ganache, ruffles, curls and whirls, chocolate figures and sweets.
Megan Clifford, of Colwyn Heights organised a special chocolate themed birthday party for her daughter Isabel’s eight birthday and said the 16 children who attended had a wonderful time.
Megan, who works as a part-time ward clerk at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, and her husband Tim, a geologist, have three daughters – Seren, 10, Isabel, eight, who both attend Ysgol Pen-y-bryn in Colwyn Bay and Molly, two.
She said: “I drop into Hewitt’s Cafe to meet up with friends over a coffee on a regular basis, and was very pleased when I discovered they also offered children’s workshops for birthdays.
“I have to say the experience was right up there. The children had a wonderful time. It was brilliant and very stress free for us as parents. Stephen took charge and nothing was too much trouble.
“They really did enjoy the event and came away with all sorts of chocolate goodies. And all had big smiles on their faces. Stephen is a natural with children – he explains everything very carefully and really gets them involved.”
She added: “I grew up in Colwyn Heights as did my husband Tim, though we both moved away for university before returning here to raise our family.
“I’m proud of the area and want to support local businesses and independent retailers as much as I can. I think Hewitt’s Cafe offers something different, the cakes are delicious. And Steve’s chocolate themed parties are a real winner. We wish him every success.”
Anna Openshaw, project manager for Colwyn BID, a business regeneration group tasked with boosting trade in Colwyn Bay, Rhos on Sea, Old Colwyn and Mochdre, says she is delighted with the contribution Hewitt’s Cafe is making to what Colwyn Bay has to offer visitors.
She said: “We want to increase footfall with people shopping locally. It’s important we increase sales generally and attract more visitors. There is no doubt Stephen Hewitt’s chocolate themed parties and workshops are a big hit and I hope his business continues to go from strength to strength.
“The idea of taking his chocolate workshops into schools is an inspired one and I’m delighted they are proving so successful.”
She added: “My aim is to create opportunities for smaller businesses and make sure projects are delivered on time.
“Part of that role is to develop the profile of the seaside and leisure offer in Colwyn Bay and I think what Stephen has achieved is a great example of the top entrepreneurial talent this area boasts.”
To find out more about Hewitt’s Cafe, Colwyn Bay visit www.hewitts.wales/cafe
To find out more about Colwyn BID visit www.colwynbid.co.uk