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  • Writer's pictureAlex Young

Stripped Back with Brighton Cacao Company's George Wellicome

Introducing George Wellicome, founder of Brighton Cacao Company. Inspired after taking a trip to the jungle in Honduras, George who had dropped out of college at 18 to begin cheffing, has taken his obsession with chocolate and made a career out of it.

George talks to us about his journey to date, challenges as a founder and how he keeps up momentum during insanely busy times. If you've ever wondered what it's like to work in the chocolate industry then this guide is for you.

George, thank you so much for making the time to do this. We're fellow chocolate lovers and are really intrigued to learn more about what you do! Please tell us what exactly you get up to as the founder of a chocolate company and let us know what you love about it?

I am a chocolatier and pastry chef, and I own Brighton Cacao Company.

What I love most about it is I have the freedom to do whatever I can. I am totally responsible for mine and the company's future, and I can make the business as good and as exciting as I want it to be. The responsibility is all on me. Each day I have to be more creative and better than the previous one. I can push boundaries with my cooking, which makes it more exciting for the customer.

How did you get into the position you're in?

I studied Patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in London. This is where I developed my skills as a pastry chef and a chocolatier. I knew then that I wanted to have my own shop, I just wasn't sure what exactly the shop was going to be.

So I worked all over the industry, in restaurants, chocolatiers, bakeries, wedding catering etc, just to expand my knowledge. Then at the end of 2019 is when I decided to go ahead with the shop.

What are the challenges you face in your line of work?

As a chef, it used to be the long hours, the heat of the kitchens, the intensity of the kitchen environment, but you get used to that.

As a business owner, it is the amount of different hats you have to wear every week, most of which you know nothing about (taxes, pay roll, business rents, marketing, websites etc).

Every day and every action is a learning curve. You face huge challenges constantly, and at the start you have to accept that you will fail more times then you succeed. But you have to just keep pushing forward and tackle every problem you run into.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into this industry?

As a chef, gain as much experience as possible. When I was studying at Le Cordon Bleu, I was horrible at plating desserts, so in my spare time, I worked for free at a 2 Michelin star restaurant called 'Dinner by Heston' to gain some more experience. Try and understand the basics first, and learn as much as you can.

Even now, I still go and do free work experience, just to learn whatever I can. It will give you an edge.

As a business owner, I'm new to the game, and I'm still finding my feet, so I won't offer any advice.

It looks like you're killing it, plus your chocolates are out of this world. How do you prevent yourself from burning out, especially during more hectic chocolate focused times of the year like Easter and Christmas?

I think if you're already thinking about being burnt out, you've lost the battle.

It's the busiest time of the year, sleep and rest should be the last thing on your mind. You've worked so hard to build a company, and you have an amazing opportunity at Christmas where people are out in huge numbers and spending money, and you can show off your products that you are proud of. You shouldn't be thinking about rest, you should be buzzing that you've got two months of serious hard graft ahead. Rest after Christmas and be happy that you've smashed the last few months.

As Christmas was coming to an end, I started planning for the following Christmas and for 2024. I made a two year plan on my only evening off in months, when the momentum is there, just keep pushing. You have to be willing to outwork everyone when the time comes.

If you're yet to try George's handmade chocolate which is individually wrapped by hand in his store in Hove, you have not lived! Our personal favourites are the coffee bar which has been made possible thanks to a collaboration with the Milk Shed in Brighton. This extra creamy milk chocolate coffee uses a mixture of chocolate from Peru and Indonesia to complement the toasted nut and vanilla notes in the coffee. Each piece is like a smooth espresso - unbelievably delicious. We also go mad for the caramelised white chocolate. Often described as a 'posh caramac', this melts in your mouth. Light brown in colour with deep flavours of caramel, it is not one to miss out on. Explore the range here and treat yourself and your loved ones, you are so worth it!

Thank you so much, George. As you know, we adore your chocolate. It's genuinely possible to taste the passion that has gone into it. Each product you create is beautiful and your determination to make the company a success, bringing joy to all of your customers is so admirable. We are avidly supporting your journey! Your plans to go fully bean-to-bar with your production line and to open up a roastery which will be available for tours make us even more excited for the future of Brighton Cacao Company.

You can get in touch with George directly if you want to ask him for his advice or find out more about the wonderful world of chocolate.

This guide forms part of the Stripped Back series which have been designed to provide open, honest and encouraging information. They're a chance for you to understand the real ups and downs those being featured have experienced in their journeys to date. The aim is to demystify entry points to certain industries, as well as outline tangible advice for those looking to get into a new area of work. We hope you enjoyed this guide by Brighton Cacao Company.


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