Georgia Quealy and Daniel Linehan first met in culinary college and then began honing their skills by working in Michelin-star restaurants and training alongside world famous pastry chefs.
However, when the pandemic hit, the pair were unsure of what they were going to do next as the hospitality industry changed rapidly. They decided to put their skills to use and build their own chocolate brand. By October 2020, they were selling their products online.
Georgia and Daniel are no strangers to Irish Country Living as they previously appeared in 2022, with their old brand name Praline Chocolates, as part of an article on the Athlone Food Circle.
“So much has changed since then, but especially the vision of our brand,” says Georgia. “First of all, we had a name change from Praline to Bon Chocolatiers. The name Bon just came to us quite naturally one evening and it just felt more fitting for the brand.”
The pair have also focused on their brand awareness by introducing new products that complement their initial creations whilst still upholding quality.
“Quality food production is at the heart of what we stand for at Bon Chocolatiers, from sourcing our ingredients to our finishing touches,” says Georgia.
Choosing Irish producers has always been important as they try to get the best ingredients that match the standard they want to uphold.
“We use Irish dairy, of course, local milled grains, Irish berries, and peanut butter from Irish brand NutShed. Usually, we are inspired by a specific ingredient and then work the collection or the box around that.”
When designing their chocolates, Georgia and Daniel take an artistic interpretation of what they think the chocolate should look like. “We have reintroduced our Christmas ‘rocking robins’, this year which are chocolates in the shapes of small robins. For the Irish hazelnut version, we use Irish hazelnuts from a farm in Westmeath. We collect all the hazelnuts when they are still green, crack them by hand, roast them and then make our own chocolates.”
However, the pair are most excited for their new range of six chocolate gifting pouches as a result of their partnership with the Dunnes Stores Simply Better brand.
Georgia says they are really unique and the perfect gift for Christmas.
“What I love about the pouches is the different range of flavours and textures we explored. We have launched a variety of truffles, clusters and shards which all have their distinctive taste. Right now, my favourite is the orange, cranberry and hazelnut clusters as they have a nice, warm Christmas taste - but my favourites keep changing.”
Bon Chocolatiers have been working with Simply Better for over a year now and have since expanded their team by taking on four new members of staff. According to Georgia, the support they have received from the Simply Better team has been invaluable, especially from the on-site visits.
“They have guided us through a lot of processes that we kind of looked at but never delved fully into,” says Georgia.
“Simply Better has given us confidence but also a new mindset and belief in ourselves to succeed further with our business, especially as a relatively new producer in the Irish chocolate industry.
“We are putting our heart and souls into Bon Chocolatiers and we are extremely excited to see what the future holds.”
Her all-consuming passion fused with a commitment to quality has earned her a place in the Simply Better family.
Ann Rudden dreamt of owning her own business from an early age — she was only nine years old when she realised that she wanted to work for herself.
“When people ask me why chocolate, I tell them I’ve always had an interest in confectionary coupled with my love of chocolate and good quality ingredients,” says Ann.
After completing a course in bakery and management in the Dublin Institute of Technology, she rented a small production unit and began developing her own range of chocolates.
“After I finished college, I worked for several years with both Irish and international chocolate companies in production and technical managerial roles,” Ann says.
However, she always wanted to bring chocolate and also jobs back to the small village of Stradone,
Co Cavan where she grew up. Today, the company is coming to the end of its third transformation after expanding to increase capacity.
According to Ann, as a master chocolatier, her ethos is all about quality. “Our company has won many awards and even though we are producing a higher volume of products, we don’t compromise on ingredients,” she says.
Going to food shows like the Ploughing Championships and seeing people enjoying her chocolates inspires Ann to continuously experiment with different flavours and textures.
“I love to see people’s faces react when they initially put the chocolate into their mouth, it is like a recognition of my hard work.”
This year, Ann is most excited for customers to try her new range of single origin chocolates as part of the Dunnes Stores Simply Better range. Single origin means the cocoa beans are sourced from a single place, leading to a unique flavour profile from the bean.
“All of the cocoa beans for the single origin bars are sourced directly from farms in Madagascar, Peru,
Colombia, Brazil, Java and Venezuela,” says Ann.
Ann describes the Madagascan cocoa bean as sweet with citrus flavours, compared to undertones of raisins and figs found in the Colombian cocoa bean.
“If you are a real chocoholic and know your stuff, you will find the single origin set absolutely divine,” laughs Ann.
Ann has worked closely with the Simply Better team to make creative, innovative products such as the swirl sticks and hot chocolate marshmallow bombes that have been relaunched this Christmas.
“I personally love the hot chocolate bombes as I think they are a novel idea, you put your chocolate ball in a cup and when you add hot milk, the marshmallows escape. Such a novelty dessert for Christmas that has a wow effect. They come in a pack of three and are packed in a nice cracker box so they are also an ideal gift.”
Speaking about the longevity of her partnership with Simply Better, Ann says: “It’s like a family, we’ve been working together since the start. It’s been very important for our business, that continuity of support has enabled us to create jobs here in Stradone. They understand small food producers and bring local to the next level.”
For now, Ann is at her busiest time of year, ensuring perfection in
every product she sends out this Christmas.