Willie Harcourt-Cooze was born in London on April 29, 1964 to an Irish mother and a Burmese father. He was the third of five children, surrounded by four sisters.While on holiday in Ireland, his father, William, fell in love with and bought the deserted Horse Island on a wild stretch of Ireland’s south west coast. The family moved to live there when Willie was four. In a farmhouse between Ballydehob and Schull Willie spent his childhood making cheese, smoking fish, milling flour, growing vegetables and pickling fruit.
Willie was reeling in sea trout almost before he could walk, so it is not surprising that his passion for food survived and thrived into adulthood. Willie returned to London at 15 and at 18 left home for a series of swashbuckling adventures and tastes; from the feral meats of the Australian outback to the native dishes of Peru, via a feast of exotic delicacies throughout the Far East. He charmed his way onto fishing boats and into local kitchens and devoured a multitude of culinary secrets. While in Venezuela on holiday in 1993 with his wife, Tania, Willie met a traveler who told him of a place “where the mountain meets the sea”. They headed for this remote coastal area near Choroni.
Having fallen for the area, one day a beach umbrella seller told them of a hacienda in the cloud forest for sale. They went to investigate in the Henri Pittier National Park, where 1800 metre mountains steep into the Caribbean Sea. That was Willie’s first introduction to the cacao tree. The owner changed his mind, but three years later, after returning to London and almost giving up hope, Willie was able buy Hacienda El Tesoro in 1996. He quickly discovered his passion for chocolate and began experimenting with making cacao bars. Ten years later he had carved himself into the land, which is renowned for having some of the finest beans in the world.
Willie and Tania’s first two children, Sophia and William were born in Venezuela.Their third Eve arrived when the family had moved to Devon as Willie sought to set up a chocolate factory. He began collecting original chocolate making machinery from around the world. Willie started producing his first single origin 100% cylinders in the factory in Devon in 2007. They were an instant hit and a year later Willie added to them with his first single origin chocolate bars.
Willie is the only small cacao grower and producer in the UK. He was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary, Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory, in 2008 which was followed by a second series; Willie’s Chocolate Revolution: Raising the Bar. His book Willie’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2009.”
# Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
# Published: 04 March 2010
# Format: Paperback 226 pages
# See: Full bibliographic data
# Categories: Cooking With Chocolate
# ISBN 13: 9780340980408 ISBN 10: 0340980400