Hill St., the boutique chocolate brand born in Saffron Walden, is just four years old. But it’s already supplying Fortnum & Mason, exporting to Tokyo and, a fortnight before Christmas, cut the ribbon on a second store on Cambridge’s All Saints’ Passage.
Founded by brothers Greg and Chris Smith, who grew up just outside Walden and went to school in Cambridge, Hill St. is, they say, all about delivering chocolates of highest quality and unrivalled flavour profile. With sights set on one day securing a Royal Warrant, they use only “the finest, fresh, natural and local ingredients”, explains Greg, to create chocolates which “span from the classics to bold and alluring new flavours”.
“Cambridge is such a lovely city and having grown up in the area we had always aspired to open a store here,” he adds. “We have so many customers from Cambridge that travel to Saffron Walden to see and purchase our creations, for gifts and personal treats, and that had often nudged us to consider the opportunity.”
On leaving school, the brothers took different paths: Chris went to Paris to train as a chocolatier - where, among other things, he worked with famed chocolate sculptor Patrick Roger - while Greg pursued a design career. With a shared “desire to be the best, big respect for our local community, an appetite for experimentation and uncontrollable love of chocolate,” they then brought their respective skills together to create Hill St.
The brothers’ confections are carefully balanced, to both preserve the integrity of the chocolate and showcase innovative flavour combinations - take the ginger and lime marzipan with a green tea ganache, or the orange and Earl Grey. As well as their signature boxed chocolates, available in various sizes, they create modelled chocolates to suit each season: for Valentine’s, expect everything from classic hearts, shells glossy with rose-red cocoa butter, and cute, boggle-eyed frogs.
Set to appear on a Channel 4 TV show come March - keep an eye on Hill St.’s social media for updates - Greg and Chris say the real reward of running their own business is “bringing joy to our customers”: “For the customer to relate an emotive and joyful experience to our creations is wonderful.”
* Hill St. is at 5 All Saints’ Passage, Cambridge and 7 Hill St., Saffron Walden. For more information, visit hill.st, where you’ll find opening times for both stores, and follow @hillstreetuk on social media.
Pictures: Alistair Grant/@bokehphotographic
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More by this authorAlice Ryan