Charmain is the owner and head chocolatier at La Chocolaterie Rococo in Great Brak River. After moving from Tzaneen in Limpopo to the small community on the Garden Route, Charmain has turned her life as a caterer into a life filled with Belgian chocolate.
“I’m originally from Tzaneen in northern South Africa. My parents have a holiday home in the south and we used to come down here every year. I met the previous owner of this chocolate shop in Oudtshoorn one year. We became friends. She had trained in Belgium to be a chocolatier. I was in love with her chocolates and asked her one day if I can take some of her chocolates back with me to sell at my coffee shop in Tzaneen. She said, ‘Wouldn’t you rather make your own chocolates?’ I said I can’t find anyone in South Africa who would give me that intensive training as a chocolatier. I would have to go overseas and I was too old already. Her husband had recently retired and they wanted to move to a smaller place. She offered to sell the shop to me with all the equipment from Belgium, and she offered to train and mentor me for life.
“It was an amazing opportunity. The idea was to bring the chocolate business to Tzaneen and run it with the coffee shop I had there. Eventually we decided to stay on this side and just move it over to Great Brak. We brought it over in January 2016.
“I just love this area. For me, it was important to not have the chocolaterie in a big town like Mossel Bay or George and disappear into everything there. I wanted the feel of this quaint little artsy town. We have about 70 to 75 different flavours in the shop and I adjust the recipes according to the seasons. In summer, we have a lemon meringue because of the fresh lemons. In the winter, we make more cozy flavours like cinnamon truffles. The one we’re most known for is our blue cheese truffles. They’re very different. You either like them or you don’t. You see chocolate, but you taste blue cheese.