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Chapel Market’s ‘Willy Wonka’ gets donations boost after fire at his Damson Chocolate shop

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:18 11 August 2016

Dom Ramsey with a charred cocoa grinder in the fire damaged kitchen at Damson Chocolate. (Picture: Polly Hancock).

Dom Ramsey with a charred cocoa grinder in the fire damaged kitchen at Damson Chocolate. (Picture: Polly Hancock).

Archant

Generous strangers have melted the heart of an award-winning chocolatier by donating thousands of pounds to help him rebuild his Chapel Market shop after a devastating fire.

Dom Ramsey gets on with the post fire clean up at his shop. (Picture: Polly Hancock).Dom Ramsey gets on with the post fire clean up at his shop. (Picture: Polly Hancock).

Dom Ramsey, 46, is one of the only “bean to bar” makers in the country and has received rave reviews for Damson Chocolate, which he launched late last year.

But three weeks ago he arrived one morning to find his store engulfed by thick black smoke, and his heart sank.

“I was absolutely gutted, thinking: ‘I don’t know how to come back from this’,” he told the Gazette. “This time last year I was decorating the place and getting ready to open. Now we’ve got to start again.

“It’s about £20,000 worth of damage to the fabric of the building, the machinery the ingredients and the stock.”

Dom will have to take some time out while repairs are carried out following the fire, which he believes was caused by a faulty extension lead. That means he won’t be able to make or sell any of the chocolate that won him five Academy of Chocolate awards, including One to Watch.

That is long enough to see a business go under, but when the business deals in chocolate, things are different, and he has been given a much-needed “boost”.

“I set up a crowdfunding campaign for 30 days and within 10 hours we had hit our £5,000 target,” he continued. “It’s absolutely amazing. There’s a great community of chocolate industry people to thank, along with customers and strangers too.”

Dom, who has also appeared on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, has been writing about chocolate for 10 years on his aptly-named Chocolate Blog. He launched his business after impressing friends with homemade samples and is now seen as a key figure in the high-end chocolate boom that has seen the number of “bean to bar” makers rise from three in the UK five years ago to 15 today.

He buys his beans from central or South America at five times the fair trade price because he wants “no part” in the exploitation of farmers that is rife in the industry. To donate to his fundraiser, click here.

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