Anber Raz works in law by day and in chocolate by night. Despite being entirely self-taught, this entrepreneurial woman’s after-hours activities yield some seriously spectacular results. Little Black Cat Gourmet’s creations combine her innate artistic flair with an impressive natural aptitude for chocolate work and, with Asiana magazine just one of the authorities coveting Little Black Cat’s wares, it’s safe to say she’s rather deliciously talented.
How did you get into chocolate-making?
Growing up, my parents had a sweet shop – so chocolate has always been a big joy in life; although my intake was limited by following a halal vegetarian diet. I’ve worked in the field of international women’s rights for over 18 years, but after I had my daughter I went part-time.
Once she started school, I found I had more time, and decided to do something I love and create chocolates. The idea for Little Black Cat Gourmet was for it to be a creative and artistic outlet, but also to make great tasting chocolates influenced by my British Pakistani heritage – using only natural flavours and oils, incorporating flavours like pomegranate, jasmine, mint, cardamom, mango, rose and kewra.
Who are your biggest mentors in the chocolate world?
Well firstly, that would be you! I’d imagined just making and selling locally and for family and friends, until you came across a photo of one of the chocolates online and got in touch to tell me about the Great British Spiced Chocolate Challenge. I entered, but never imagined I’d get past the first stage, let alone make it to the final. Since then you’ve been hugely supportive and encouraging – and have introduced me to so many wonderful people.
Those people include the wonderful Matthieu de Gottal of Gottal Chocolate. Until speaking to him, I had very wrongly thought that all single origin chocolate was created equal! I sent him my salted caramel and lime ganache Belle de Morte chocolate skull, and he gave me great feedback and suggested how I could improve it.
You and he both gave me great suggestions of which single origin chocolates to try, which totally transformed the taste of that chocolate and also all the others I now make. So huge thanks to you both!
What’s been your greatest achievement thus far?
Being featured by Asiana Wedding magazine was a huge deal – as was the opportunity to sell my chocolates in Selfridges for Chocolate Week through the Great British Spiced Chocolate Challenge. And having a stand at the 2016 London edition of The Chocolate Show, where I also had a model on the catwalk wearing our creations. I never imagined doing anything like that.
Your spectacular costume for that fashion show was accessorised by intricate chocolate jewellery. What was your inspiration?
I love the Mughal period. It was so lush, elegant and full of colour and design. Traditional Pakistani, Indian and Persian arts and flavours are hugely influential in all my collections. I loved the idea of creating edible jewellery, and something that you wouldn’t be quite sure whether is edible or not. The designs themselves are influenced by traditional Pakistani wedding jewellery.
…And the biggest challenge?
Creating something that was also wearable for the catwalk, when my model would be in motion. It involved a little bit of hidden engineering – and a little bit of help from my husband.
You also make amazing cookies – what are your favourites?
The chocolate-covered Oreos – I like the combination of dark single origin chocolate with mint and peanut butter Oreos. Also our coconut macaroons, which come in various flavours and corresponding colours.
What more exciting products or projects are in the pipeline?
Wedding season is coming up, so I have some new ideas for that which incorporate traditional elements associated with South Asian weddings. I’m also launching a Little Black Cat homewares collection, which will include some of our own handmade designs, as well as artisan items from India, Pakistan, and the UAE.
- To discover the world of Little Black Cat Gourmet, click here
- To read more about Indian-inspired chocolate on my chocolate blog, click here and here
- For my Bombay Bad Boy chocolate cheesecake recipe, click here
- To read an interview with Asiana Magazine editorial director Momtaz Begum-Hossain, click here