Partner Content

Bon Chocolatiers on their most delicious collaboration

The Food&Wine Emerging Producer of the Year award winner in 2022 has developed a successful partnership with Dunnes Stores Simply Better. Here, Bon Chocolatiers founders Georgia Quealy and Daniel Linehan share their story, and the ingredients of that special collaboration with Ali Dunworth. Partner content with Dunnes Stores Simply Better.

Georgia Quealy and Daniel Linehan founded Bon Chocolatiers in 2020

Chocolate is certainly having a moment in Ireland. There’s been a growing appetite for artisan creations, and, lucky for us, clever pastry chefs are stepping up to meet the demand. Among them are Georgia Quealy and Daniel Linehan, the masterminds behind Bon Chocolatiers in Athlone, Co. Westmeath who’ve recently joined forces with Dunnes Stores for a bespoke range of Simply Better chocolate products.

Bon Chocolatiers specialise in handmade and painted small-batch chocolates they call ‘edible pieces of art’, so it’s no surprise to hear that Georgia had spent some time studying art after school. “Our signature chocolates can take up to three days to create”, she explains, “Each chocolate mould is hand-painted and we use different methods such as paintbrushes, spray guns, droppers, and sponges” and that’s before they even get into their made-from-scratch fillings hand-piped into every chocolate cavity.

Fortunately for chocolate lovers, while studying art Georgia also worked as a waitress - that was when the hospitality bug bit her, “My curiosity about pursuing a career as a chef was sparked. I fell in love with the creativity behind the art of cooking”.

She headed to the Athlone Institute of Technology to study professional cookery, which is where she first met her partner Daniel Linehan. It was a very foodie meeting of minds - they’d both grown up in food-loving households, Georgia’s Dad was a chef for a time and at home they loved trying new things and she was in the kitchen from a young age. Daniel’s parents were both restaurateurs, and at home he says “ The emphasis was always on good food and quality time at the dinner table and I think that played a significant role in shaping my culinary experience”.

The creative aspect of cooking stood out to them both as they studied and worked together amassing some solid experience between them but it’s time spent at Michelin-starred Campagne that Georgia credits with teaching them “a very disciplined kind of work ethic, where meticulous attention to detail is key. We loved this way of working and the challenge of stepping into a kitchen of that standard”.

While they loved restaurants, the pastry section was a real draw for both Daniel and Georgia and eager to level up their skills, they did courses with award-winning French chocolate master Vincent Vallée, “It was amazing to see such talent in real life and we learned some really useful techniques and recipes here”. Daniel also spent three months at The Pastry Academy by Amaury Guichon, a world-famous French pastry in Las Vegas.

Then along came 2020, restaurants were closed, but it meant they found themselves with a new opportunity to explore their culinary skills. Georgia was keen to soak up some of the knowledge Daniel had covered at the academy. “He’d learned so many innovative techniques and recipes so we started experimenting. That was the starting point for our business”.

Pistachio and raspberry shards are just one of the delicious products Bon Chocolatiers has developed for Dunnes Stores Simply Better Photo by TREVOR HART 2022

It helped also that Daniel’s parents had a café in Athlone with an idle kitchen, providing the perfect setting for experimentation. They began crafting their own chocolates. Initially to keep busy but it soon evolved into a burgeoning enterprise. They realised that “COVID opened up a gap in the gifting market. Everyone wanted to give a more meaningful, and unique kind of gift and that’s where we started seriously thinking about turning this into a business”. Bon Chocolatiers was born.

The artisan chocolate boxes were a hit and the business blossomed gaining recognition and awards along the way. It was winning Emerging Producer of the Year at the Food&Wine Awards that led them to meet the Dunnes Stores Simply Better team. They began talking about creating a bespoke range for Simply Better, “From there, we have been building on the relationship and developing a range together. Our brands align so well with each other so collaborating on a range of products has been great”.

Daniel and Georgia’s exceptional boxes of handpainted chocolates set the benchmark for planning a bespoke range for Dunnes Stores. They wanted to incorporate their high quality ingredients and sourcing but approach it with more of an everyday chocolate slant, and have fun with their creations - which let’s face it, chocolate-making calls for. Along with the Simply Better team, they began to play around with ideas - everyone was keen to include Bon’s signature salt caramel made with Oriel Sea Salt from Co. Louth so they came up with Simply Better Salt Caramel Truffles. “We’ve had fun working on them”, Georgia says, “These are the everyday chocolates we want to eat. Flavours that we love and inspired by some chocolate bars from our childhood we loved”.

The full range of products created by Bon Chocolatiers for Dunnes Stores Simply Better

They tapped into that childhood nostalgia when it came to their chocolate cluster pouches, “We take lots of inspiration from treats we loved when we were young. We love that feeling and bringing it into our chocolates”. The Honeycomb Crisp Clusters made with 43% dark Swiss milk chocolate and handmade honeycomb and the Mint Crisp Clusters with crushed crips biscuit and peppermint are like grown-up bites of most Irish chocolate lover childhood treats.

Working with Dunnes Stores has allowed them a whole new avenue for developing more products, something they relish as young entrepreneurs, “It’s been great because we are constantly thinking of flavour combinations and ideas that could work with chocolate and we love adding textures too, our chocolates have more than one layer, with varying textures inside”.

The colour, texture and flavour seen in their indulgent packs of chocolate shards are another nod back to their Bon Chocolatier pieces, “The colours and the combinations are really like what we have been doing with Bon” particularly the Pistachio and Raspberry Shards - a dreamy combination of white and raspberry chocolate, and vivid green pistachio paste and pieces.

Daniel and Georgia both feel the partnership with Dunnes marks a significant milestone in their business journey, “ It’s so surreal every time we pass the products on the shelves when we do our grocery shopping we always get a great buzz from seeing them there”. They both love that the support of working with the Simply Better team allows them to be even more creative with what they do, “ It’s a huge change for us as small producers, but that’s where the Simply Better team steps in and really help get you from one stage to the next. The opportunity to grow our team and our business to be able to expand our capacity is so exciting”.

See Dunnes Stores Simply Better for more