Chocolates by James Close and Maria Guseva is a limited- edition collection created by James and fellow chef Maria Guseva, of the acclaimed Raby Hunt Restaurant in County Durham. The launch is a key part of the Food Hall’s Meet the Artisans event in Fenwick. Customers will enjoy an exclusive first look at the range of six slick, smart and edgy bite-sized confections and two bars, available as part of Meet the Artisans until May 21. The store’s month-long foodie showcase features a different line up of producers each week, with over 30 suppliers popping up in total throughout the course of the event. Customers can meet the makers, taste their extraordinary products and learn about the stories behind their brands.


James says these won’t be like any other chocolates: “The idea is that it will be a seasonal range with a real wow factor. We want them to be sexy, not boring and use the freshest flavours for them – not flavouring or purees that are bought-in.”

“We are delighted to have been given this opportunity to exclusively showcase our rule-breaking chocolates for the next month.”

“Our mission is to make something unlike anything else. We want a great balance of flavours with attention to detail for all the ingredients. We have a yuzu puree for example – made fresh by us – it is an intense, tangy citrus flavor – an alternative to a lemon or lime flavour – easy to buy in but we start with the pure fruit. We’re combining rosemary with yuzu for one of our chocolates.”

“We also have a truffle caramel. The truffle flavor is made using Perigord truffles. The caramel is infused with the whole truffle rather than with oils or synthetics.”

The range comprises:

Skull: honey, rosemary ganache and yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) gel. 

The skull is of especial significance being James’ trademark. He has a large silver one on show in The Raby Hunt restaurant, a reminder that life is too short to waste your days and not push the boundaries. 

Buddha: white chocolate, pine nut, Gianduju, crispy Dacquoise and smoked Maldon salt

Almond praline and caramelised cocoa nibs

Raspberry gel and Sichuan pepper ganache

Black truffle caramel, with hazelnut and crispy Feuilletine

Milk chocolate Earl Grey ganache with bergamot gel

Black truffle caramel chocolate bar

White chocolate, mango and passion fruit bar

Each piece is individually made by Maria and has been created to appeal to chocolate lovers looking for something new and unique. The individual chocolates cost £1.30 each with the tropical mango and passion fruit bar coming in at £.3.50, and the black truffle caramel block at £4.

On the menu

Long-time partners, such as Doddington Dairy and Wylam Brewery, will be amongst the regional crowd.

NOVELTEA founders Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia, graduates from Newcastle University will showcase their innovative new alcoholic drink of cold-brewed tea infused with a matching spirit, a spin on tradition driven by their passion for mixology.

Ex-Great British Bake Off finalist, Kimberley Wilson, will launch her award-winning range, The Glamorous Jam Co with incredible flavours, derived from using hand-picked whole fruit, whole spices and fresh herbs.