Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Richard Tomes is so sweet just like the chocolates he makes.

Tomes is the master chocolatier at Tomes, which makes a wide selection of handmade chocolates.

He said: "We strive to create delicious chocolates for people to enjoy and savour.

"We use only Belgium chocolate and our other ingredients are of an equally high quality."

Tomes is responsible for product development, quality control, staff training and ensuring that the orders are despatched on time and to the correct client.

He says, however, that chocolate production is a team effort with everyone ensuring that they perform their tasks correctly so that the end product satisfies the consumer's expectation. Tomes is a lawyer by profession with a passion for food. He has been in the chocolate business for four years.

"I did a pastry course at a chef school, during this course I took part in a chocolate workshop and decided there and then that I wanted to specialise in chocolate. I also read widely and kept practising until I understood about the chemistry of chocolate and how to work with it.

Handmade chocolates go through a number of stages each as important as the next.

"It is also essential to pack them carefully packing them carefully into gift boxes, sealed and sent on their way," he added.

Each chocolate goes through a series of intricate stages which require skilled operators to continually assess, check and sample to ensure that each chocolate is as good as it can be.

His clients are big local supermarkets, export customers and ordinary customers who visit the shop on the Backsberg wine estate.

He adds: "There are three aspects to finding and retaining customers; consistent marketing of a consistently premium product which is all backed by a reliable and helpful client service.

"Demanding clients are accommodated as much as it is possible. If the client's demands are unrealistic we will say so and offer the closest compromise.

"If we are unable to meet the client's demands because we do not offer the service we will recommend someone else. In our experience most clients are realistic and appreciate guidance after all we are both after the same thing, satisfaction.

Chocolate work is difficult and needs people who can understand the intricacies of chocolate. Training is important.