4th May 2022
In this series about the region’s food producers and farmers, Kerry Witt tells Holly Algar from the Romsey office of the law firm Thrings how she achieved sweet success
“Every chocolate has a story,” says Kerry Witt – and she has plenty to tell.
There’s the one she invented using the flavours of Earl Grey tea, one made from rare chocolate sourced from a friend who lives in Ecuador, and one she’s developing in partnership with a local gin producer.
These and many more are hand-made by Kerry in her little kitchen at Sway, near Lymington. There are two secrets to the Miss Witt taste. First is the “tempering” process which involves heating and then cooling the chocolate to give it the perfect consistency and “snap”. Kerry does this by touch, instinctively knowing the moment when the chocolate is perfect.
Secondly, Kerry uses a water ganache – a mix of chocolate and water – for her fillings instead of the more usual butter and cream mix. This helps flavours come through – for example, she describes her passion fruit one as “singing and dancing around your mouth”.
Kerry was sweet on sugary treats from a young age. “As a child I loved cooking,” she says. “I was making cakes and peppermint creams at three years old and when I was about seven, I won my first prize in a baking competition with a teddy bears’ picnic made out of marzipan.”
As a young adult, Kerry trained in patisserie before meeting renowned chef Alex Aitken at a college competition. That turned into a job at Aitken’s Michelin-starred restaurant Le Poussin in Brockenhurst, and then a role at Bluebird restaurant in Chelsea and closer to home at Careys Manor.
However, Kerry was suffering from ongoing health problems linked to a major back operation she had undergone in her 20s, which had left her needing to learn to walk again. The chocolate business was born around her need to work around her recovery.
From small beginnings with a stall in Lymington High Street, Miss Witt made a name in the highly competitive world of fine chocolatiers, winning awards from the world-renowned Academy of Chocolate.
“When people ask me about my greatest achievements, I always say learning to walk again and winning my first award,” she says.
As well as selling online and supplying room chocolates and wedding favours for local hotels, Kerry holds popular workshops for adults and children.
“Even though we’re having fun and eating chocolate we’re learning about where it comes from, and how it is different from the chocolate they are used to. And when anyone tries it, I wait to see the look on their faces. It’s the ‘wow’ that makes it all worth it!”.