A top chocolatier is aiming to snatch a world record from TV chef Gino D’Acampo and become the fastest truffle maker on the planet.
Jo Edwards, who set up her successful artisan chocolate company, Aballu, in 2006 will be going all out for the new benchmark in front of thousands of discerning chocoholics at the Hamper Llangollen food festival.
Jo aims to celebrate her decade in business by smashing the world two-minute record for chocolate truffle making set by the celebrity chef on his TV programme four years ago.
And she reckons that, given the right conditions, she can not only better his formidable tally of 47 but go on to smash it to pieces by rustling up over 50 truffles within the allotted 120 seconds.
Jo, 42, who lives in Bradley, will bring many years of creating specialist chocs to bear on her record attempt, which will come in front of the public on the first day of Hamper Llangollen.
The crowd-pulling festival will see the Denbighshire tourist town become the culinary capital of Wales over the weekend of October 15 and 16.
After growing up in a village pub in Brymbo near Wrexham, Jo went off to Cardiff University from where she graduated with a degree in Language and Communication in 1997.
After a spell working as a publicity officer at the Welsh Office she moved back home to North Wales to join a large pub chain and later became a night manager at a supermarket in Wrexham.
At one stage Jo had little cash to spare for Christmas presents and came up with the idea of making chocolates for her family and friends.
Her creations were such a big hit that in 2005 she decided to resign from the supermarket and set up her own business.
A year later she had started Aballu, which is based at the Cocoa Rooms in Station Road, Rossett.
She and her two assistant, trainee chocolatiers Robyn Johns and James Rayfield, now lovingly produce a wide range of truffles in exotic flavours like Balckcurrant and Rosemary and chilli, ginger and lime along with chocolate animals in lamb and mint, duck and orange and pork and apple.
This year will be Jo’s 10th time of exhibiting at Hamper Llangollen and to mark the anniversary of Aballu she decided to do something to make a big impact at the festival.
She said: “I wanted to do something to celebrate and when one of my friends started joking about going for a world record I decided that’s exactly what I’d do.
“It had to be something achievable at the show, so I did some research and came up with the idea of an attempt on the one for making the most chocolate truffles in two minutes.
“It was set by Gino D’Acampo on his show Gino and Mel in December 2012 when he made 47 truffles and won himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
“I’ll be making my attempt on the Saturday of Hamper in front of quite a large crowd on the main demonstration stage.
“What I have to do is use a mixture of cream and chocolate to roll out each truffle and then add three coatings.
“According to the rules, I must have two official timekeepers and two witnesses – one of whom is from the food industry – present to ensure everything is done properly.
“The truffles must all be of the correct shape and one of the witnesses has to taste them make sure they’re actually edible.
“A video will be made of the attempt which will then be sent off to the Guinness Book of Records to be verified, and that will take about eight weeks, I’m told.”
Jo added: “It’s obviously going to be nail biting waiting to hear if I’ve managed it but I’m confident I can beat Gino’s record.
“I reckon I can do more than 47 truffles and I’m actually aiming for 50 or 55 within the two minutes.
“I see it as a personal challenge which is down to just me and my skills.
“I’m delighted to be doing it at Hamper Llangollen where I’ve been exhibiting every year since I started my business.
“It has such a fantastic atmosphere, with some really nice food and drink producers and great crowds.”
If she’s lucky enough to set a new world record Jo won’t be toasting the success of her achievement back at her Rossett base.
She explained: “The building we’re in, which in the past has been all sorts of things like a hairdressers, a greengrocers and a post office, and the building next door, which was once a bank, used to be part of cocoa rooms set up in Victorian times as part of the temperance movement to keep the young men of Rossett away from the demon drink.
“That means it still has a covenant on it that I can’t buy, sell or serve alcohol on the premises.
“As I use very small amounts of rum and Welsh whiskey in some of my truffles I had to get special permission from the landlord to use alcohol and that is now written into my contract.”
Hamper Llangollen chair Colin Loughlin is delighted the food festival has played a part in Aballu’s success story.
He said: “Jo is a very talented chocolatier and is a very welcome regular at Hamper Llangollen.
“She has come up with a really novel way of celebrating her 10th anniversary and I’d like to wish her all the best in her world record attempt.
“Thanks to a whole host of indigenous companies, North East Wales is rapidly establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for high quality products.
“The food festival is a perfect shop window for the companies who form the backbone of the local economy.”