Ex-Invercargill chocolatier Stu Jordan realised throwing away the rule book was the best thing he ever did when his Kako chocolate creations were served to Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, during their recent South Pacific Royal tour.
Mr Jordan is proud of his unconventional ideas that broke the chocolate-making mould and impressed the royal couple.
He had given a box of his chocolates to an acquaintance who was travelling to the Solomon Islands to meet the British ambassador.
''I thought nothing of it. Next thing I know they are raving about Kako chocolate and asking if I could provide special boxes of as part of the feast and as favours on the VIP table''.
He also sent to the royals' hotel room a special box of Kiwi-inspired flavours that included a new coconut cream he created for the occasion.
''It was such an amazing opportunity for a kid from Invercargill to supply chocolate to the royals. I was humbled and still pinching myself,'' he said.
When Mr Jordan was made redundant from a corporate job in 2009, he decided to take a risk and follow his chocolate dream.
With no real experience, he travelled to Melbourne and trained under award-winning, world chocolate-master Paul Kennedy.
In 2010, he opened his first The Sweetest Little Chocolate Shop in Auckland that sold chocolates made in various parts of New Zealand.
About six months ago he decided to expand the business and started making the Kako brand of chocolates.
''For the long term sustainability of the business, it needed to start producing its own products. We had the space for manufacturing and I saw a gaping hole in the pure, uncompromising end of the market,'' he said.
The handmade chocolate industry was long overdue for a change, he said.
His method was about understanding the science behind the structure of chocolate and learning how to manipulate it using technology.
The glossy, colourful chocolates are created by using new European techniques and specialised machinery that give them a high shine and bright colour.
He combined the world of art with chocolate and rewrote the rules to capture people's imaginations, he said.
''It's all about colour and strong, bold flavours,'' he said.
His passionfruit hearts, which are 40 per cent fruit, were a finalist in this year's NZ Food Awards.
"It is important to me that chocolate engages multiple senses - taste, visual, texture, aroma. The actual chocolate is is a secondary thing''.
Each batch of chocolate is handmade with a custom-built colour spraying machine, which can take three days to make.
The specialist equipment was well worth the huge investment,'' he said.
As far as he knew, his business was the only company using the European chocolate-making technique in New Zealand.
The chocolates have become a such hit, the company now plans to start selling them throughout New Zealand.
''We are still a small business but I am searching for the perfect high end retailer to sell my chocolates in my home town of Invercargill,'' Mr Jordan said.
The Southland Times