Enigma Fine Chocolates

Through my work at The Old Bus Depot Markets I have the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people with an incredible amount of passion and dedication to their work. One such individual is Stuart Strutt-Shotton a talented chef, owner & creator of Enigma Fine Chocolates, father and an all round lovely individual. I encourage you to have a bit of a read of Stuart’s journey. 
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Enigma Fine Chocolates secrets unveiled

The ganache filling for a lot of the truffles is made with water, not cream. This is a technique I learnt in London and it allows for the chocolate and added flavours (spices, purees etc) to really shine through. It also leaves a really clean mouth feel after eating the truffle. I suppose the big ‘secret’ is using the highest quality chocolate to produce a unique product. The chocolate used also uses cocoa that comes from many different regions and origins from around the world. Although it is great to utilise products from different cultures I ultimately believe…

…buying and using local produce is extremely important because it helps support the community and small independent businesses. Encouraging future growth and showing people what produce they have right on their own door step is a exciting eye opener for many. It also encourages sustainability with less distance for produce to travel….

The inspiration to become a chef

I’ve been in the food industry for 15 years now. Seems crazy, but that’s half my life!

…I was always interested in baking at home when I was young and when I was shown how to make scones from scratch for the very first time it solidified the thought that I wanted to be a chef …

Learning the tricks of the trade 

In year 10 I did work experience in a hotel in Nelson Bay. I told the head chef my hopes of becoming a chef and after a few months of weekend work there I was offered an apprenticeship which I started after completing year 10. I stayed there throughout the 4 years occasionally helping out other hotels in the chain in NSW and Qld.

During my fourth year I entered and won a scholarship which entitled me a trip and work experience at The Ledbury in London.

… It was a completely different world there and quiet intimidating, but it helped me understand the hours and dedication chefs will go through for their craft …

When I came back to Australia I worked back in Nelson Bay at a hatted restaurant called Zest runned by a husband and wife team. I spent 4 years there, becoming sous chef. It taught me a great deal about running a small business. From there I ventured down to Melbourne and started working within the Vue de monde group in particular the pastry section at the 3 hat Vue de monde and Cafe Vue at Heide where I took on the head chef position.

… It was my time in the pastry section that got me fascinated in the sweet side of the kitchen …

After Vue I helped open a restaurant in the South Wharf area of Melbourne with the ex head chef of Vue de monde and 2013 Yound Chef of the Year winner Mark Briggs called The Sharing House where I was sous chef. I spent most of my time on the pastry section working on different dishes, flavours and techniques, which further drove my interest of pastry and sweets. I also spent one day a week working at Burch and Purchese in South Yarra owned by Darren Purchese and learnt a great deal in cake and pastry preparation as well as being introduced to chocolate work.

Sailing on to new experiences

In 2013 I decided to take a break from the commercial kitchens and travel to the south east coast of France to work on the Yachts. I worked on a 25 meter private yacht for 7 months cooking for the owner and his family and friends as well as crew. I got to work with some amazingly fresh and local produce including some wonderful baked goods.

Enigma Fine Chocolate's Butterscotch Popcorn Truffles

Enigma Fine Chocolate’s Butterscotch Popcorn Truffles

Kneading the skills  to perfection

After the yacht season finished I decided to travel up to London and pursue baking and chocolate. I got into an amazing Bakery in Borough Market near London Bridge called Bread Ahead co-owned by head baker Justin Gellatly were a learnt a great deal on sourdough breads, mixing techniques, shaping and baking and the complexity of doughs.

I also worked at a chocolate shop in London called Paul.a.Young. This experience  taught me how the flavour of chocolate is influenced where the cocoa is grown and how the beans are prepared.

… This drove my passion for working with chocolate, starting my own business and sharing with people the knowledge I gained about just how complex and amazing chocolate really is…..

Settling down in Canberra with family

After working as a baker and pastry chef at Autolyse in Braddon since my return to Australia, I decided to delve into a new position as the head chef at Glasshouse Cafe in Civic. Although I loved my work at Autolyse, the hours of this new job allows me to build upon my chocolate business and spend more time with my beautiful wife Adna and our three gorgeous daughters.

… I am truly thankful for these four women in my life. If it wasn’t for Adna’s support and constant help, Enigma Fine Chocolates wouldn’t exist …

I joke with people that I just do the chocolate work and she does everything else, but there is so much truth to it. Packing, labelling, decorating (it was Adna’s suggestion to glitter up the bars) and helping set up and run our stall. She is truly invaluable.

Plus she can some how put up with the mess that is made during production! Just…

From chocolates to veggies

Our 3 little ones love eating fresh fruit and veggies. We have a large garden patch at home where we grow as much as we can and the girls love getting there hands dirty with planting, watering, pruning and picking.

… It educates them on how their food is grown, the effort and care it takes to grow it and gets them excited about eating it because they have helped in producing it….

They love picking the tomatoes or cucumbers and eating them straight away and the strawberries never get a chance to make it indoors!

Where you can get your hands on Stuart’s delicacies?

Right now I have a stall at The Old Bus Depot Market in Kingston which I try to get to as much as possible, although through the summer this will not be possible with the Canberra heat. Our last stall at the Bus Depot Markets for the year will be on Sunday 25th October. I am also looking into a few retail outlets to sell from as well. I’ve also sold to customers from home where I produce all the chocolates from.

A fun food fact!

The earliest use of cocoa by the Mayans and Aztecs was as a unsweetened, chilli spiced beverage made with the ground cocoa bean, water and chilli. Very different to how it is consumed these days

Chocolate was also used as a form of currency and regarded more valuable then gold!