WILLIAM Curley is a man with a passion. Beneath his austere businessman’s look thrives a man who lives for chocolate and patisserie. Every day, in one of his two stores, Richmond and Chelsea, he takes the time to meet his customers and share his passion for baking. And when the moment comes to talk about his wish to bring a bit of pleasure into peoples’ lives through chocolate, his eyes start to sparkle.
Before opening his first shop in Richmond, William spent most of his life in the best restaurants in Scotland, France and London where he trained and worked with the best chefs – from Pierre Koffman, Marco White to Raymond Blanc – to become the talented patissier that we know today.
“I’ve been cooking since I’m fifteen and I became a patissier very young. I didn’t attend to become a chef but it happened.” William’s success has been a succession of things that just happened as he likes to say; as if a nice fairy godmother leaned over his cradle and blessed him with culinary success.
That’s how things are with William. He touches something and turns it into gold. After having opened his first store in Richmond in 2004, William and his Japanese wife, Suzue, received the award for the Best British Chocolatier in 2007 and 2008.
“I don’t pretend and I don’t want to become a superstar. I just want to give people pleasure. Just like everybody can treat themselves to a piece of cake from Pierre Hermé, I would like everyone to enjoy a bit of what we do.” Life is as simple as that for William.
“Fine chocolate is new in the UK and it is our role as chocolatier to educate people about what good chocolate is. We have to make them understand that they don’t buy a price, they buy quality. There is a demand in London for experimental things but it is important to get the foundation right before getting too creative.
“As my wife is Japanese, we have developed a range of chocolate with Asian flavours such as Toasted Sesame, Green Tea, Japanese Black Vinegar, Apricot and Wasabi, Yuzu or Sadachi… That brings something different to the market.”
Our relationship to chocolate has evolved over time and this little black morsel is now playing an important part in a lot of people’s well-being. “We have noticed through the years that people don’t only buy chocolate as a gift but also for their own consumption. Some customers come three times a week to buy their piece of pleasure.”
But what is William’s secret pleasure? “I love the classic flavours cooked very nicely such as an Apple pie or pain perdu. Sometimes, there is no need to look for something too sophisticated. Pleasure can be very easy to find.”
Next time you go to one of William Curley’s stores, ask for a hazelnut hot chocolate, which comes with a selection of chocolate or treat yourself to a nice patisserie. You’ll see, the whole world will look a little brighter for the day. Life is good, enjoy it!
198 Ebury Street
Orange Square, Belgravia
020 7730 5522
10 Paved Court
020 8332 3002