Qatar Duty Free - Chocolatiers to the Queen of England

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The only chocolatiers to have the warrant of both the Queen and the late Queen Mother, Prestat is a brand with 115 years of gourmet heritage and a celebrity following to boot. Craig Butcher talks to Prestat Chocolate’s Bill Keeling from his headquarters in London.

 

“We package wonderful chocolate in wonderful packaging that makes you smile – that’s our aim in life,” says Bill Keeling of Prestat Chocolate. It’s an admirable aim his company has been pursuing since its beginnings in 1902.


Founded by Frenchman Antoine Dufour, whose family famously invented the chocolate truffle in France in 1895, Antoine brought the recipe to London and established Prestat in Oxford Street.


The company quickly built a celebrity following, which has been maintained throughout its history and has included rock ’n’ roll’s Sir Paul McCartney and Rod Stewart, and children’s author Roald Dahl. “He adored Prestat truffles, so there’s good reason to believe we helped to inspire the creation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” says Keeling.


“All of our chocolates are handmade in our London kitchens,” he adds. “Everything we make, apart from our chocolate bars, is hand-packed. We’re very much an artisan chocolate company.


“Most of our cocoa comes from West Africa. That’s partly a personal mission, because I used to be the Financial Times correspondent for West Africa. We pay a premium for all of our cocoa, though we’re not part of the Fair Trade movement. We look to surpass their standards,” he says.


Prestat’s kitchens make over 500 different chocolates, but the award-winning sea-salt caramels are their biggest seller.


“One of the great joys of chocolate is that within a single product, you might have ingredients from a dozen countries around the world. It’s a mini edible atlas,” Keeling says. Ingredients include ginger from China, tea from India, figs from Turkey, and dates from the Middle East.


“We’re a gifting chocolate company. Not just for personal indulgence, but to give pleasure to others.”


A Prestat selection is now available in Marmalade Market at Hamad International Airport in Doha.

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