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May 19, 2017

Steven Ter Horst: In two worlds

The story of a government employee, turned chocolatier, who is now bringing the worlds of chocolate and booze together.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem

Before setting up shop on Unley Road and then moving operations onto Rundle Street, Steven Ter Horst was a government employee with dreams of chocolate.

“I was full-time at the Department of Immigration, and then in the evenings and all day Saturday I’d make chocolate and prepare for Sunday’s farmers’ market at Wayville Showgrounds,” he says.


Steven Ter Horst Chocolatier is located at 256 Rundle Street.

Steven will be popping up at the Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival this July, and The Fruitful Pursuit Autumn ’17 on 27 May as a sideshow, where he will be pairing chocolates with wines from four winemakers over two masterclass sessions: Mr Barval and The Mysterious Mr Black, and Simão & Co and Sanglier.

There are 40 spots available for The Fruitful Pursuit ticket holders. See the event page for further information.

“Things were kicking on well enough that I could go part-time at Immigration, because I had some wholesale clients and things like that, and then after a while my partner said ‘You’ve been dreaming about opening a shop for ages, so you should give it a go,’ and we opened our first shop on Unley Road.”

With that move, Steven was out of the “soul-destroying” work of the Department of Immigration and fully immersed in the world of cacao and couverture, finding a niche for his product among European expats.

“They come here and go ‘You’re not too sweet like other Australian chocolates,’ so it’s sort of how we fit in, I think,” Steven says.

“What was important for me when I was creating my chocolates was honesty of flavour. So when you eat one of my chocolates, I want you to be able to go ‘Yep, that tastes like lemon, or that tastes like raspberry,’ not that the last flavour on my palate is sugar.”

It wasn’t too long before the chocolatier found another world to explore through his beloved craft – the intersection of chocolate and alcohol.

“I use alcohol a lot in my chocolates, and I’ve always been fascinated about trying to put flavour profiles together that don’t necessarily go together instantly in people’s minds,” Steven says.

“We’ve got an Ardbeg chocolate that’s literally got Ardbeg 10-year-old in it. It’s peaty and smoky and fire-and-brimstone… [and then] we’ve got tawny in a chocolate, we put shiraz into a chocolate.

“I don’t know why, it just seems to work really well for me. I just seem to understand the way the flavour profiles work… I taste the wine first, and I try and pick flavour profiles in the wine that would resonate into the chocolate.

“I’ll make a ganache and I’ll highlight those flavour profiles by putting the actual flavour into it. So if I’m tasting blackberry, I’ll put a little bit of blackberry puree, if I can taste pink peppercorns, then when I’m reducing the wine to use in the chocolate, I’ll put four or five pink peppercorns into it, just so you’ve got that suggestion of flavour in the background, enhancing what’s already there.”

Steven’s crosspollinations didn’t go unnoticed, and eventually the industry reached out to him for collaboration.

“I was approached by the Hot 100. They asked me if I could turn the winner of one of the year’s wines – so that was Blossoms by Gentlefolk. They asked if I could turn that into a chocolate, which I did, and it’s followed on nicely from there,” he says.

“They tend to come to me once or twice a year to have a chocolate made. I just find it fun. I find it interesting to get those flavour profiles in without making it almost an abusive flavour.”

In the last year or so, Steven has become even more a fixture in the alcohol world; he appeared at last year’s Beer and BBQ Festival and will return again this July, in February he held a Valentine’s Day event with Charlotte Hardy, pairing her Charlotte Dalton range with his chocolates, and he’ll also be appearing at the next edition of The Fruitful Pursuit on 27 May.

Though it may not seem like a natural fit, Steven says there’s far more in common between he and the other producers than you might think.

“No one’s really turned around and said no so far, because they like the idea of someone who’s as passionate about they do as what they are about their own product,” he says.

“Chocolate’s a hard one, because we’re all used to the mass-produced cheap chocolate, that it’s hard for people to get used to the style of chocolate making we do, [but] it’s about educating people.

“We do it with single origin chocolates, we do it by not putting too much crap into our chocolates, trying to keep it as balanced as possible, so… the sugar in the couverture represents the sugar in the final product.”

Steven keeps CityMag engaged by bringing out items like his teacake with salted caramel and stout sauce for last year’s Beer and BBQ Festival, so wherever he pops up – we’ll be there.

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