A golf professional in St Andrews who learned how to make her own chocolates during the pandemic to sell to help keep her house has got her eyes firmly on the ball after a successful first year.
Rachel Lewis, 28, who stays in Garthbridge, Fife, took up chocolate making last year and has been making thousands of treats from her flat kitchen every week since.
Working at St Andrews Links, Rachel bagged her dream job and relocated from Wales to take on the role, renting a flat while she and her husband-to-be, Matthew Knight, rented out their home.
Put on furlough during lockdown, she launched Cegin (pronounced keg-in) Rachel, which means “Rachel’s Kitchen” in Welsh.
She sold her first boxes out on July 1, 2020 and has sent thousands of chocolates across the country as a result.
“Matthew and I had a house down south when I was offered my dream job. We rented out the house and we had a horrible tenant who refused to leave or pay for 19 months,” she says.
“During lockdown we were on furlough and were having to cover a mortgage and rent – the stress was just unbelievable.
“I learned a new skill to take my mind off it – it was like therapy for me. I bought a Star Wars ice mould for one of my best mates for ice cubes for his gin. I thought about filling it with chocolate and went around finding out how to do it.
“I bought a cheap silicone mould, chocolate and melted it down – it went horribly wrong.
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist and purchased William Curley’s book which shows you how to temper chocolate. After many failed attempts I invested in better equipment and eventually I got better. I was speaking with lots of chocolatiers on Instagram and then I was the one getting asked how to do things.
“I had so many family and friends asking to purchase them. I checked with my landlord, registered with the council, got my food safety certificate and sent out sample boxes.”
Golf is in the family
Managing nearly 300 juniors on the junior programme at the golf course, Rachel’s love of golf is in her blood with her dad, Simon, encouraging her to play from the age of 10, and her younger sister, Georgia, a professional golfer.
Her two passions collide regularly, with Rachel also creating golf-inspired chocolates.
She said: “I really don’t know how I have time for chocolates, but I do!
“My boss asked me if I was going to quit to be a chocolatier – but I love my job and love doing this in the evenings.
“I’ve had to buy a wine fridge (which is the optimum temperature for the chocolate) and I don’t even drink!
“The first time I purchased boxes I bought 50 to last me to Christmas. I ran out in the first week of launching in July.
“I do boxes of 12, 18 and 24. For Christmas alone I did 161 of the small, 31 of medium and 35 big ones. I also do slabs of chocolate and did 207 while working.
“I have made thousands of chocolates over the past year. If I wasn’t golfing or working I was making chocolate. They take days to make and every step can easily go wrong. You’re waiting for things to dry, tempering chocolate, decorating, boxing you name it.
Investing in equipment to make and decorate her treats, Rachel takes a lot of inspiration from her family and friends and has turned to her new-found chocolatier acquaintances to help solve any chocolate-making problems.
“In my tiny kitchen I have a trolley dolly with all of my chocolate equipment. I use sponges, paint brushes, an air brush and more.
“I wouldn’t say I am self taught as a lot of my chocolatier friends I’ve made have really helped. We’d FaceTime each other and talk about what went wrong and how to fix it. It is so nice to have that support. People really are my inspiration.
“March was Matthew’s birthday so he picked the flavours, then it was my mum’s birthday so May was all fruity chocolates, June was Fathers’ Day – my dad didn’t want any soft chocolates in his box so it was nutty pralines and hard chocolates. I showcase different flavours every month.”
The price of boxes: £12 for 12, £18 for 18 and £22 for the 24 size box. Postage costs £4 to anywhere on UK mainland and delivery is free St Andrews.
To order, message Rachel on Instagram here.