October 8, 2013
I met up with the fine chocolate advocate to talk about some exciting news!
You may not have heard of Kate Johns, but if you have heard of Chocolate Week, Chocolate Unwrapped or The International Chocolate Awards you have heard of her work. Kate founded the nationwide celebration that is Chocolate Week ten years ago, and added the fine chocolate exhibition Chocolate Unwrapped three years ago. 2012 saw the first International Chocolate Awards, which she co-founded with world-renowned chocolate expert Martin Christy.
So if you care about chocolate it would be fair to say that you have a lot to thank Kate for, and have hopefully been enjoying the many delicious results of her mission to ensure that fine chocolate, its understanding and appreciation, is front and centre of the UK food scene, and that the UK is front and centre of the global chocolate scene.
Kate is nothing short of a one woman fine food revolution, given that her company, nudge pr, also mastermind the RAW wine festival and the phenomenal success that is the Cake & Bake Show, among other things.
When I first met Kate it was at her Soho offices, called to a meeting to discuss my potential as a judge for the International Chocolate Awards, which at that time had not yet started. I was shown into a high ceilinged white space, buzzing with the activity of her team and infused with the hip of the Soho street life outside. I was somewhat trepidatious, given all I knew of her seniority and empire. When she introduced herself I did a double-take, were there two Kates, did she share a name with one of her young and funky looking crew? I was looking for the lady in charge, a 21st century matron with chocolate on her mind and on her hips. I didn’t find one. Kate is young, pretty, slight and always dressed with intriguing, edgy and understated cool. She wears her achievement and her determination lightly.
Kate is in charge of some of the most important and exciting food events in Great Britain, and she is perpetually in motion. But unlike your average leader she does so from within the pack, she is always on the ground, sorting things out. There is an informality to all, which is hugely appealing. But make no mistake, she runs a very tight ship.
Mercifully I passed the test on that first meeting. Once I had picked my jaw up and we got talking I found the most interested and engaged woman, passionate about her work. I was thrilled that fine chocolate had such a champion, and I am now fortunate to call Kate a friend.
We met recently for the purposes of an interview. I want to tell something of Kate’s story for two reasons. Firstly she has wonderful and exciting news to share. Salon du Chocolat, the hugely successful chocolate event that tours to specially selected spots on the globe each year, is to launch in London in October 2013. Earlier this year Kate finalised a partnership with the Salon du Chocolat and will be in charge of their London operation. Its inaugural show will be within Chocolate Week, and encompass Chocolate Unwrapped. I cannot think of a better pair of hands in which to place Salon du Chocolat London. The future of fine chocolate in the UK has been guided and nurtured by Kate so wonderfully for over a decade already. It is thrilling that she now has an opportunity to add to it in this way.
The other reason I wished to interview Kate is because I feel that it is just as important and interesting to share and celebrate the efforts of those who work to support others, to ensure the artisans, makers and chefs in whose work we glory reaches us in the first place. Kate is an unsung hero in my book.