Chocolatiers Shane and Dorothy Neary of Neary Nogs, a Food NI member company, recently took part in a major international chocolate congress in Madrid. They were the only chococlatiers from Ireland invited by the organisers of ChocoMad 2019 – Salon Internacionale del Chocolate.
The Northern Ireland chocolatiers had an opportunity to talk about their business and sample their unique bean-to-bar chocolates at one of the world’s most important event in the international chocolate calendar.
Shane Neary says: “We were thrilled to be invited as the only representatives from the island of Ireland to speak at such an important event. It was a tremendous business opportunity in that it gave us an unprecedented opportunity to increase awareness of our products to a very knowledgeable audience of chocolatiers, chefs and retailers.
The husband and wife team has just opened Northern Ireland’s first artisan chocolate factory and visitor centre in the Mournes, near Rostrevor. Visitors are able to view the bean-to-bar production process and then sample the freshly produced chocolate. The company is Northern Ireland’s only bean to bar chocolate producer.
They’ve already hosted a series of tours including one involving Tourism NI. The new chocolate factory is being included alongside a visit to the Killowen Distillery nearby, a producer of gin, poitin and eventually whiskey.
“Taking part in ChocoMad was a marvellous experience and a great opportunity to meet key influencers in our industry. We made a lot of great contacts and many business opportunities,” he adds.
Neary Nogs is Northern Ireland’s only producer of stoneground chocolate made from high quality beans from single estates especially in the Dominican Republic and Sao Tome.
The Co Down chocolatiers were among international names such Guylian, Valor and Simón Coll at the two-day congress. They were able to taste their chocolates along with more than 50 chocolate brands from 20 countries. The event focused on the ‘bean to bar’ trend and also showcased artisan chocolates from Venezuela, Norway, Italy, Mexico, Ecuador and, of course, Spain.
The company sources cacao beans ethically from Sâo Tomé, Dominican Republic and Ecuador. It hand sorts the beans, roast, crack and winnow, stone grind and temper the chocolate.
Neary Nogs began making chocolate in 2011 using a unique recipe from Dorothy’s family in the US. Since 2011, the small artisan business has won major awards, sold chocolate to Belgium, as well as in the UK, other parts of Europe and to New Zealand, Australia and the US.