tr:Eat - The Independent Tees Collective

20 Jun 2021

I'm a firm believer in that chocolate makes up one of the segments in the food pyramid - you know the thing you learn about in school? With carbohydrates, fruit and veg, that sort of thing? Yeah, chocolate definitely takes up a massive portion of that pyramid. And thankfully, we have a lot of Teesside chocolatiers who agree with me, but especially today's Indie Tees Collective feature.

I'm pretty sure all Teessider have heard of tr:Eat, the indulgent, luxurious chocolate brand that can be found online, in select stores, and at markets. But if not, let me illuminate you. The chocolates that this biz produces are just beautiful. They're the kind where you aim to make them last as long as possible because they're way too good to eat all at once. They're a massive hit in our family, so I just know all of you are going to love them! And plus, if you're not from Teesside, they ship their chocs nationwide, so you can enjoy them anywhere in the UK. But without further ado, let's find out a little more about tr:Eat.

Hello! Let's start with a bit of an introduction. Who are you and what is your business all about?

My name is Chris Corcoran and I am the owner operator of tr:Eat. It's my goal to bring a fine dining product to people in the comfort of their own home. Using exceptional ingredients, but keeping costs as low as possible, I make unique chocolates and sweets at an accessible price. 

Where did the inspiration for tr:Eat come from? What made you want to kickstart it?

I have long had a passion for food. I loved to eat in fine dining restaurants because of the creativity and ingenuity of the chefs. However, very few of those restaurants had a comfortable feel to them.  The expectations around standards and protocol meant that I never fully relaxed. Not that I don’t like dressing up and going out, but it’s nice to feel like there are no judgements if you use the wrong fork or eat something new in the wrong way.

With that in mind, I decided I wanted to create fine dining food that people could serve in their homes at dinner parties. Prolonged lockdowns meant that dinner parties were a no go, so I developed my skills as a chocolatier, and so a new direction for tr:Eat was born. I am completely self-taught, and have developed all of my recipes and techniques through a combination of reading, and trial and error.

Which of your chocolates is your favourite and why?

My wife, Aimee, who is a big reason why tr:Eat exists, has the best answer to this question - she always says her favourite tr:Eat chocolate is the one she’s eating. I quite like our more unusual flavours. We have a raspberry that is made using Belgian milk chocolate and fresh raspberries, and also an apple caramel that combines homegrown apples with a luxurious dark caramel. I also make a honey sweetened dark chocolate that is topped with bee pollen – if you haven’t tried bee pollen definitely give it a go.

What do you enjoy most about running tr:Eat?

As I mentioned, tr:Eat has allowed me to do a lot of learning. I have had to learn about the work in the kitchen, like tempering chocolate, making ganaches, caramels and cremes, making marshmallows, jellification, airbrushing and a few other specialist techniques. I've also had to learn how to operate and market a business, and it’s probably the latter that is proving the steepest learning curve. That said, I'm really enjoying throwing more than the occasional dad joke into our social media and allowing my personality to permeate all aspects of the business, not just the flavours.

I also love the innovation and experimentation that forms part of the R&D process. I am a creative problem solver and I now have one of the most exciting problems to solve – how do I keep people happy?

What has been tr:Eat's biggest achievement so far?

We've had a few great moments in our short life. After just 3 months in, we were stocked at Fenwicks in Newcastle in their local heroes market initiative. We've been in various shops across the north east as a guest product and have sold out a couple of markets. However, the greatest achievement is the number of not just positive, but positively glowing reviews. The drive for tr:Eat is allowing people to enjoy our food and that’s exactly what seems to be happening. As long as that continues, tr:Eat will continue to function.

Source: tr:Eat

What do you love about the Teesside independent scene?

I've always enjoyed working as part of a cohesive team and being an independent trader with no staff has provided me with some much-needed time to myself, but it does also mean that I don't have people around me day in day out. The community of makers and sellers in Teesside has filled that gap. People genuinely want to see other people do well and are happy to help out with information or collaborations wherever they can. It's been great meeting some like-minded people.

What's next for tr:Eat? What do you hope for the future?

I'm hoping that we can continue to push the boundaries with our chocolate in particular but we've also got a lot of plans ready to push forwards. We're going to be doing pairings of our chocolates for wine and spirits tastings in the near future, as well as creating new products for specific markets, including a 'flight' of whisk(e)y jellies, which will showcase the produce of individual distilleries.

When dinner parties return, I will be developing a range of finish at home fine dining desserts that use molecular gastronomy techniques, such as suspension, jellification and spherification to provide a unique dining experience.

I hope to one day open a confectionery school, which will run classes for adults and youths who are interested in developing their skills to work in the industry, but will also offer an alternative curriculum for any students at schools who don't fit with the academic routes that the education sector focusses on.

Source: tr:Eat

And finally, recommend one other Teesside independent to us!

There are so many to choose from! But I have a real soft spot for Knots and Crosses. The work Beth does and the manner in which she does it is incredible. I am so proud to say that I was Beth's first ever paying customer, and that I also bought her very first gift voucher. It's a special day when our pretzel order turns up. I'd like to say it’s a special few days, but they inevitably don't last that long!

How great does everything look and sound? Chris has got his chocolate and branding designs nailed, so it's no surprise that the brand is so well-loved across the region! If you want to get your hands on a box of beautiful chocs, you can order from the tr:Eat website. And if you want to keep up with all of the tr:Eat goings on, you can follow them over on Instagram or Facebook.

Make sure you check back next week for another incredible Teesside independent!

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