Jacqueline Keenan began her career at Herefordshire College of Technology then moved to Gloscat in Cheltenham.
She spent 17 years as a pastry chef in fine dining and Michelin starred restaurants including 7 1/2 years as a head pastry chef at Michelin starred restaurant Simpsons in Birmingham.
In that time, Jacqueline attended a chocolate course at the Valrhona school in France, and a contemporary dessert art course in Munich Germany. She also spent time doing Stages in different restaurants, chocolate shops and patisseries.
Jacqueline’s ambition throughout her career was to open her own Patisserie and Chocolate shop bringing a British twist to French classics.
In June 2014 the dream became a reality Jacqueline opened La Fleur de Chocolat selling online, wholesale and at food festivals the first being on 13 June 2014 at The Royal Three Countries showground.
In a few years, Jacqueline plans to expand her business and open a patisserie and chocolate shop.
History of Chocolate:
Chocolate starts off life as a fruit which looks a bit like a rugby ball. It’s grown on the bark of the Theobroma cacao tree growing 20 degrees North and South of the equator. It takes 10 years for the fruit to be fully grown but will start growing the fruit after about 3 to 4 years. ( as its a fruit I like to think of it as one of my 5 a day, and I do like to be healthy). It has been around since 400 bc.
The Maya society first used the beans to make a drink, it was often a thick, gritty porridge-like bitter cold drink, not at all like the sweet chocolaty smooth hot chocolate we are used to now. The beans were also used as money, for instance, 30 cacao beans would buy you a small rabbit, 1 cacao bean 5 chillies or 10 tomatoes, 300 cacao beans would get you a large turkey. The chocolate world owes a lot to the Maya people as they were responsible for the word cacao and turning drinking chocolate into an art form.
On the 15 of August 1502, Christopher Columbus discovered chocolate on the island of Guanja, but he did not know what it was, just that it was of great wealth. In 1518 Cortes arrived and destroyed the Aztec Empire, so then the bean moved to Spain, it was at this time when sugar was added to the drink.
They also believed the drink was good for you, cured you when you felt faint and strengthened your body against diseases. It was a luxury item in Spain as it was so expensive they also ate solid chocolate. From Spain, the bean travelled across Europe.