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What Chocolatier Paul A. Young Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the stain-remover pen and the tongue cleaner. We asked chocolatier Paul A. Young, who has partnered with Sony Movies Christmas to celebrate the channel’s launch, about the Cornish sea salt, matte finisher, and shiatsu foot massager he can’t live without.

I’m on my feet for at least 12 hours a day, so my partner, Luke, bought me this for my birthday this year. I’ve been a chef all my life, I’ve always been on my feet, and they do get a bit battered. When I opened it, I was a bit surprised – I’d also been given a Theragun for my sore back and shoulders, so I was a bit like, “What are you trying to tell me?”, but this massager is actually brilliant. It’s a bit noisy, I’ll admit, but I love it. It’s better with your socks on, and it comes with a mild, medium or hard shiatsu setting, and has a heated option as well as one where it sort of squeezes your feet really hard. Once your feet are in this, you’re not moving.

My day to day involves a lot of mixing, chopping, cutting, holding, and gripping – and my hands are in and out of hot soapy water all day long. So my hands can look completely battered. Everyone knows Aesop, we always have two in the house because me and my partner always buy each other one as a go-to gift. I like that it’s an intense balm, it’s vibrant, but not greasy, and it has natural scents that I like, such as woody notes, and smoky cedarwood. I use it a few times a day just because my hands get so dry.

Often I’m in the kitchen all day, and then I’ve either got some TV work, a meeting, or dinner plans, and I have to go straight from one to the other without a shower. This stuff takes the shine off your skin, makes your pores look invisible, and just makes me feel incredibly fresh. I’ve tried all kinds of anti-shine face creams and nothing is as good as this, it actually makes me look younger. My partner, Luke, mentioned it to me once so I picked it up on a whim really. The thing is, as a ginger guy, I’ve got very fair skin, so even if you’re doing TV and you get a bit of makeup on, you can just tell by looking at me because it just sort of sits on the surface. So instead, I apply this beforehand. It doesn’t have any tint or anything in it, or any talc – it’s just a really clever product if you want to feel great.

Photo: retailer

I use a lot of salt, so I tend to do a lot of research. And I like this salt company because there’s one of only a few that use a benign process. That means that rather than use gas to heat the sea water in order to evaporate it, they use hot lights, which have far less impact on the environment. It’s a sustainable process, much kinder to our oceans. They don’t wash their salt, either, which means the magnesium is still on the salt. Brands like Maldon wash the salt, but you really need the magnesium on the salt to protect your heart, because it’s sodium chloride that raises our blood pressure – magnesium is something we need more of. Anyway I usually get the salt in big buckets, but they also do these flavour pots in different varieties. I like the fiery umami bomb one, which includes seaweed and pink peppercorns. They also do a zesty one, a garlicky one, and a Mexican one, too. They’re brilliant on steaks, roast chicken, or a tray of vegetables.

Back in the 90s, I was head pastry chef for Marco Pierre White, and I learned a lot about wine then, because I was in some of the best restaurants at the time. This is a super-fresh and crisp organic sparkling wine from Riverland, South Australia. I have a bottle in the fridge all the time, and will often have a glass after a good day at work. I don’t drink a lot, so I like that this stuff keeps for a few days once opened. I actually learned about this from Forest Wines in Walthamstow, which is where I live. It’s a fabulous shop, predominantly stocking craft beers, ciders, and natural wines. It’s just a really easy drink – although there’s a lot of sediment in it, which can put people off, but you’re meant to just turn the bottle over and mix it through, because it’s part of the flavour.

Photo: retailer

As you can imagine, I get sent a lot of chocolate to try. And for the past five to seven years, there’s been this tidal wave of “craft chocolate,” you know, bean-to-bar makers. Some of it is fantastic, some of it is good, and some of it is quite poor. The problem is that a lot of people are buying the cocoa beans from the same growers or suppliers, so the chocolate all tends to taste the same. But this Glaswegian chocolate brand, which is owned by a fellow ginger called Cameron and his partner, Lara, has an amazing Dominican Republic with sea salt – it’s off-the-scale amazing. It’s super smooth, and it has a true cocoa bean taste that I love in craft chocolate. Everyone’s taste is different, but I like my chocolate to taste like the cocoa bean – no sugary flavours added, no vanilla flavouring, no over-roasted beans. Even at the end of a long day doing tastings, I wouldn’t say no to this chocolate.

Photo: retailer

These are a stunning cut and silhouette, inspired by Japanese trousers. They’re a must-have if you like a wider leg and a higher waist. I jump between a few styles of clothes, but these are easy to wear and always get noticed. And again, my partner, Luke, found out about this brand and told me about it. It’s sort of COS prices. The thing that’s interesting is they are quite generously sized; one style is just small, medium, and large, but some of the pairs I own are one size fits everyone – they have a concealed elastic waistband so they accommodate a wider range of customers. They’re very baggy, but very cool, very loose, and great quality.

I love my bike, I bought it in the first week of lockdown — we got ours just before they started selling out everywhere. It’s so handy because a lot of places near us are too far to walk, but too near to justify getting in the car and driving to. I got mine in mustard, it’s a really stunning design, and the customer service is absolutely amazing there. I had a rack fitted onto the front so I could bike chocolate orders around London, and when our nearest tube station was shut, I’d commute to work on it, too. The only thing I didn’t like is this big hill about five minutes into my journey from the house – it’s so long and steep. Coming home is brilliant, though, because it’s downhill all the way. [Editor’s note: this is available for preorder for December 2020].

The pages of this chef’s notebook are made of stone, so they’re water- and greaseproof. It’s so clever. It is made from vegan leather, it’s practically tear-proof, and they’ve thought of everything – it has a magnet in the back so it stays open when you have it on a stainless steel table. Inside, it includes all the oven temperatures and kitchen measures you could ever need, as well as blank and lined pages for any notes or sketches. I use this every day, it’s so helpful. I actually keep all the old ones, too, they’re too nice to throw away.

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What Chocolatier Paul A. Young Can’t Live Without