If there ever was a title for the kind of person who has a natural aptitude for life and unapologetically owns it – Sydney-based Chef and Chocolatier Jessica Pedemont would be a serious heavy-weight contender. We chat with an extraordinary Australian who has a flair for fine dining and fisticuffs…

 By Joanne Leila Smith

 If you were a child of the eighties growing up in Australia, you may remember that the most exotic chocolate you’d purchase at the corner shop was possibly Fry’s Turkish Delight.  Fast forward three decades on, and we are spoilt for choice in the chocolate to consumer chase.

 With artisanal chocolate-makers scoping the globe’s remote tropics searching for new varieties of cacao bean, and industry’s discerning dissections of the cocoa’s ‘notes’ and ‘terroir’ influence, it may be fair to argue that the simple milk powder, cocoa and sugary sweet-treat mix has grown up and become gentrified.

Artisanal chocolate is now being paired with fine wines and whiskeys, and the origin of the cacao bean is just as critical – and as marketable – as the coffee bean.

According to IBISWorld, Australian chocolate and confectionery manufacturing is currently worth AUD7 billion a year.  With industry revenue expected to grow at an annualised 3.5 percent over the five years, thanks to a significant drop in sugar prices and changing consumer trends towards ethical and sustainable business practices and greater demand for product diversification, this has led to an explosion of boutique bean-to-bar chocolate makers and an opportunity for those who manipulate it – chocolate artisans.

Enter stage-left Sydney-based Chef and Chocolate Artisan Jessica Pedemont, 35, who reflects on the changing chocolate culture in Australia.

“If you love Cadbury’s milk chocolate that’s your flavour profile, and it’s fine. Historically, our country had a small chocolate culture but it’s changing.  In 2003, when we competed in the Coupe du Monde de La Patisserie in France, we needed to source roasted nibs and could not buy it direct. We had to get it specially shipped in, but now, you can buy it at your local IGA. Like, wow!” says Pedemont.

For those who don’t know what roasted nibs mean – this is the result after the beans have been fermented, dried then roasted, the shell is then cracked and

Jessican Pedemont, Joanne Leila Smith, Chocolate Artisan

Jessica Pedemont – Lo Chef Cioccolato

If there ever was a title for the kind of person who has a natural aptitude for life...