Gerald ‘Duffy’ Sheardown has been described as a “secret genius” by the Daily Telegraph. He is an award-winning artisan Chocolatier renowned as one of the best independent producers in the UK.

Duffy’s career began in motorsport, where he constructed race cars and worked his way up to becoming Team Manager and Project Manager for world-famous teams. It was in 2007 when he learned that making chocolate from scratch using cocoa beans is very rare – the only brand to make chocolate from beans, rather than paste, in the UK was Cadbury’s. So, Duffy thought he’d give it a go.

After sourcing second-hand small-scale equipment, Duffy travelled to learn from cocoa farmers around the world, sourcing premium beans from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, and Venezuela from the growers directly. He practiced and tested the entire chocolate-making process from sorting and roasting cocoa beans to grinding and tempering the chocolate, making extensive notes and tasting every single batch to compare flavours and textures. At the time, he became the only small-scale chocolate maker in the UK.

10 years later, from his small factory in Humberston’s Wilton Road Industrial Estate, Duffy, along with wife Penny, now creates over 20 varieties of ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate. Each batch uses only beans from one single harvest, meaning the complex flavours can change from time to time; Duffy is passionate about keeping the chocolate-making process as simple as possible to allow the natural flavours to come through.

It is this dedication to quality that has led Duffy’s Fine Chocolate to being named as best in the world. In 2011, the Honduras Indio Rojo 72% bar was awarded Gold by the Academy of Chocolate, and the Venezuela Ocumare 55% milk chocolate was awarded the same accolade in 2013. His bars have won numerous awards across the continent, too.

Duffy is now an integral part of Direct Cacao, a collective of ethical cocoa growers, chocolate makers, and industry professionals who are committed to the sustainability of the world’s cocoa farms, ensuring the growers are appreciated and rewarded for their continual hard work.

This is why Duffy Sheardown is a true honorary Grimbarian.