Designed For Delight

THE delicious story of Veldemeers Chocolates goes back to 1997 when Hans van Hooreweghe set up a small business in Harare specialising in exclusive handmade Belgian chocolates. Hans was born and grew up in a small town in Belgium but as a young man he was working on a tea estate in the eastern part of what was then Zaire – now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hans had been in Zaire for around 10 years when the political instability in the region began to take its toll. In 1995 he visited Zimbabwe and was impressed with what he saw. He decided that he wanted to move to Zimbabwe and the best way to do that would be to set up a business that would provide a unique product that was not available locally – exclusive Belgian chocolates. He went back to Belgium and spent an intensive year studying every aspect of designing and making chocolates, and in 1997 he set up his business here and became a permanent resident. The business was originally called Chocolart and then became Cocoa Tree and finally in 2006 the trade name Veldemeers was officially registered. The name Veldemeers comes from the name of Veldemeers Lane in the small town were Hans grew up. The chocolate factory was set up at Doon Estate in Msasa, where it still operates from today. It’s a remarkably small factory to produce such a large range and such generous quantities of exceptional products. It’s largely unmechanised, apart from the tempering wheels where molten streams of milk, dark and white chocolate pour into vats. It’s a bit reminiscent of the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Veldemeers at Doon has a small coffee shop attached to the factory  Each shop has been individually designed to be a unique feast for the senses – there’s the visual delight of the exquisite range of little jewel-like chocolates beautifully displayed, the wonderful smell of chocolate, and of course, the best part – the taste. The Arundel shop has a warm, cosy, comforting appeal, like sitting around a glowing fire on a cold winter’s night. Sam Levy’s has a beautiful curved counter and here Veldemeers shares the space with Kudhinda. Kudhinda’s bright fabrics and textures make the shop an intriguing visual feast.

The Village Walk outlet has gorgeous, tempting window displays to catch the eye of every passer-by and lure them in to the decadent chocolate banquet on offer inside. Hans has designed every aspect of the chocolates from the look and the taste to the packaging and the presentation. They have a range of more than 50 handmade chocolates including little individual gems, bars and a fairly new range of chocolate slabs. The chocolates are designed with milk, dark or white chocolate – or in decadent combinations. All the decorative touches on the chocolates are handmade, including painted leaves, swirls and patterns. They even have a range of chocolates with Kudhinda inspired designs. Many of the designs have evolved over the years as new ranges are added. They have a small range of novelty chocolates like golf balls and little elephants. Veldemeers can also do unique corporate ranges for hotels and lodges and have produced exclusive ranges for Meikles Hotel, Victoria Falls Hotel, British Airways and Air Zimbabwe.

 

They have sugar free, nut free and alcohol free ranges too. Veldemeers produces special ranges for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter. The Easter range will be in the shops towards the end of March, so keep a look out for them! Easter chocolates will include hand painted eggs in a variety of sizes and flavours, and of course Easter bunnies and even an Easter rooster. Veldemeers chocolates are a unique blend of Zimbabwean and Belgian ingredients. Some ingredients are sourced locally while the main ingredient – blocks of raw chocolate, are imported directly from the best sources in Belgium. This chocolate only contains cocoa butter and no other vegetable fats or additives. Marzipan is made locally but most of the nut butters, natural flavourings and special liqueurs are imported. From a small staff of just three, Veldemeers Chocolates has continued to grow and develop. However, the chocolates are still individually handmade and packaged by Hans’s skilled team, some of whom have been with the company for over 20 years. If you’re looking for a truly decadent indulgence for yourself or a loved one Veldemeers is where you’ll find it.


text: Michael Nott

photos: Michele Fortmann


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