Ferdinand Vandaele and Helena Hemeryck live in a delightful rural area in County Dublin. Their lives are entwined around chocolate. At Chez Emily, established in 1996, they make pure magic. Ferdinand learned his trade beside some of the master Chocolatiers of Belgium – a spare time job which has turned into a lifelong love.
Chocolate is the food of love, so they say. Here’s a love story with chocolate at its heart that could have come straight out of a movie. She was a Dublin born girl in her late teens, taking time out in Belgium. He was a native who always wanted to be a baker, but worked for a bank, and made chocolate in his spare time. When Ferdinand met Helena, he was on his bicycle. Not built for two – but it probably should have been. The pair have been inseparable ever since that day, and married for many years.
Ferdinand’s professional passions lie in the kitchen, creating the finest chocolates for the Chez Emily range. Everything is manufactured on site at the production house at their home in The Ward, Co Dublin. Ferdinand uses finest Callebaut chocolate from his homeland of Belgium as a base for all his range. For him this is the best chocolate – the one he has worked throughout his career. White, dark and milk chocolate is tempered in small vats. After that, Irish cream and butter is added according to the individual recipes. Liqueurs and fruit purees are mixed in for individual tastes. As Ferdinand says ‘We have combined the oldest traditions of confectionary making with purest natural Irish ingredients’.
Chez Emily incorporates a lovely shop and café. Light flooded and chic, the cafe is a lovely place to sit and relax after browsing all the shelves of chocolate creations. Ariosa Coffee hand roasted in nearby Ashbourne is served alongside a range of teas and soft drinks. Marry your choice with a pick from the counter, loaded with trays of handmade chocolates. You always get a complimentary one with your coffee, but our guess is you may want more! In the chill cabinet there’s a choice of cakes and pastries too, some made in house and others sourced from small producers in the area. Chocolate Profiteroles or a little Banoffi pie, and in the summer, seasonal fresh strawberry or raspberry tarts with berries from an enthusiastic grower neighbour.
The café also has a packing counter, and you will quite often see Helena or one of the staff hand packing presentation boxes of chocolates for an order, or for café customers while they enjoy their coffee. This café is a good spot to take it all in and learn a little about one of the finer foods of life. Plenty of parking means no worries with parking meters.