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Artisan chocolatier is sweet addition to Hull’s Fruit Market

An artisan chocolatier is to bring his handcrafted range of fine chocolates and luxury Italian gelato to Hull’s rapidly-regenerating Fruit Market.

Trained chef Jon Collins is to open Cocoa Chocolatier and Patisserie in Humber Street in the heart of the Fruit Market next month.

Mr Collins previewed his unique chocolate creations in a pop-up venue at his new premises during the Freedom Festival and said he was delighted with the positive response, with some customers making repeat visits during the event.

Mr Collins, who will create up to five new jobs with his new venture, said he was hugely excited to be part of the transformation of the Fruit Market into Hull’s first urban village.

He said: “It’s a great opportunity for the business to be part of everything that is happening in the Fruit Market.

“It’s a really creative, bohemian and beautiful area. I only have one day off a week and on that day I often come down here to have a drink, get something to eat or just enjoy walking around the streets, the Marina and the waterfront.

“I’ve always wanted to do this, but never found the right location and opportunity. This is definitely it.

“I’m putting everything I have into this – not just financially, but all my passion and creativity. I’ve worked in catering for 20 years and everything I have done has led up to this point. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something very special in an amazing area. I feel privileged to be part of it.”

The £80m transformation of Hull’s cultural and creative quarter includes new and refurbished commercial, retail and leisure space centred on Humber Street. New ventures already announced for the area include two new high-quality restaurants, Butler Whites, which opened in Humber Street last month (August), and Tapasya @ Marina, which is currently being fitted out in the former CatZero building in Humber Dock Street.

Cocoa Chocolatier and Patisserie’s 1,100 sq ft new premises will have the main production kitchen and work benches for classes and workshops on the first floor, while the ground floor shop will have a pavement seating area for use for customers and hosting special events during the summer months.

Born and bred in Hull, chef-turned-chocolatier Mr Collins developed a loyal following when he ran Thomas Francis Chocolatier in Hull’s Princes Avenue. In 2006 The Independent newspaper hailed him as one of “five young chocolatiers challenging perceptions” in 2006, due to the unique and exotic flavour combinations of his handmade chocolates.

Rebranding and relaunching as Cocoa Chocolatier and Patisserie, Mr Collins relocated to Trinity Indoor Market in Hull’s Old Town in 2015 and soon made his mark with his artisan chocolates, classic favourites and traditional desserts with unusual twists.

Now Cocoa Chocolatier and Patisserie aims to establish itself as a vibrant, engaging venue in the Fruit Market, creating and selling artisan chocolates, patisseries and baked goods, as well as offering chocolate-making courses, tasting sessions and seasonal events.

The exciting rejuvenation of the Fruit Market is being driven forward by the joint venture company Wykeland Beal, formed by regeneration leader Wykeland Group and residential developer Beal Homes, working in partnership with Hull City Council. The development partners’ vision is for the Fruit Market to be “a unique, vibrant, cultural quarter where people live, work and play”.

A limited number of commercial units are now available to let, with occupation by autumn 2016, with further releases in 2017. The commercial units are complemented by more than 100 new mews-style homes around private courtyards, subject to planning permission.

Mr Collins added: “It feels like a natural progression to establish ourselves on Humber Street. We are really excited about the regeneration of the Fruit Market and feel as though it reflects our own values of being unique, creative and artisan, making us the perfect fit.

“Wykeland have been very supportive. We have talked about my vision for the business and Wykeland Beal’s for the Fruit Market and they have come together into something quite wonderful. We want to offer something you can’t get on the high street and become a destination within a destination.”

Tom Watson, development surveyor for Wykeland, said: “We’re keen to encourage and give opportunities to independent, artisan operators such as Jon and we’re delighted he is as excited as we are by the regeneration of the Fruit Market.

“Cocoa Chocolatier and Patisserie will really add to the high-quality local produce that people will be able to enjoy in Humber Street. The location is perfect for Jon’s business because, as well as serving the public, he will be able to supply the growing number of high-quality restaurants in the area.”

Chocolatier Jon Collins with Wykeland Group’s Tom Watson in the pop-up venue created for Hull’s Freedom Festival

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