When asked to make artisan chocolates for the DVD launch of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone’s new film, Felicity Macdonald and her husband Rory were astonished.
Smooth, creamy and meltingly moreish, it’s not surprising that the couple’s chocolate – made by hand from their HQ in Alford and sold in Macdonalds of Alford, their shop on the Main Street – has been causing a sweet stir in Hollywood.
“It was amazing as they wanted chocolates made with images from all the different films they’ve been in,” says Felicity.
Tasty and trendy, the couple were also commissioned to make chocolate for the globally renowned fashion house Tommy Hilfiger.
On a sugar high, Felicity, a former nurse and Rory, a retired air ambulance helicopter pilot, tell Society the secret ingredients to their success.
What makes your chocolate so special?
Our chocolate is handcrafted and artisan. For example with the chocolate slabs, I make them in four-kilogram batches so it’s more about the weight of the chocolate. Also, the ingredients are mixed into the chocolate before it’s put in the mould which I think makes a big difference to the flavour.
What varieties of chocolate do you make?
We have award-winning dark chocolate gingers. We also have different flavoured buttons such as cappuccino, caramel, ruby, strawberry and orange. Our milk chocolate swiss hearts and the solid milk chocolate cars and buses are also very popular. We also make solid milk chocolate dinky dinosaurs as well as truffles and chocolate slabs – raspberry and white, strawberry and white, raspberry dark, mulled berry.
Do you get to taste chocolate every day?
Yes, I’m often found tasting the chocolate but although I enjoy chocolate I wouldn’t say I’m a chocoholic as such. The most dangerous chocolate to make is the mulled berry. When I leave it to harden Rory likes to tidy up the edges so there’s always less to pack when I’ve made a mulled berry.
What other moreish products do you sell?
One of our best sellers has been our roasted coffee beans which are covered in dark chocolate. I always advise people to try the coffee chocolate first and then try the coffee beans.
What about chocolate activities?
Yes, we host biscuit-decorating classes for adults and children and truffle-making classes which are always great fun. The great thing is that as well as our shop, we also have a dedicated business unit at our house where all the chocolate production is done. So it’s a great space and it’s only five minutes from our shop.
Have you always been a chocolatier?
No, I was actually a qualified nurse, working at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. I never intended to get into chocolate, it was never in the game plan. If you’d asked me what I would be doing at this time in my life I would never have said this.
How did it all come about?
About 20 years ago, I was in the hospital canteen and at the time, my dad had just been diagnosed with a brain tumour and was in the hospital. That same week I met Rory randomly in the hospital canteen – he was a helicopter pilot – and we just started chatting and the rest is history! We went on to have two children and it was after being let down by a childminder that I decided to leave my job to look after the kids. After getting bored of daytime TV, I started to make chocolate and that’s where it all began.
Was chocolate-making easy?
I just started making chocolate the standard way using a bowl of boiling water and then melting the chocolate in a bowl above. But then I spotted this article in a magazine about how you can use transfers for chocolate and I thought it looked interesting. So I ordered some transfers and I used chocolate like Milky Bar and Dairy Milk, mixing it with salts to make chocolate. But it started to get a bit more serious when my husband bought me my very own tempering machine – a device used to melt, de-crystalize and crystalize chocolate.
Tell us about your famous customers?
We were approached by Tommy Hilfiger (American fashion designer) to make chocolates for the launch of their new nautical-style clothing. So we made chocolates with a picture of a life ring.
You also made chocolates for a star-studded film launch?
Yes, it was very exciting as we were asked to make chocolates for the DVD launch of the film Escape Plan which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. As part of that order, we were asked to make chocolates featuring pictures of all the films that both actors had been in so we made about 18 different chocolates.
What else do you sell?
In the shop, we have a tuck shop for the kids with lots of sweets that you can’t get elsewhere in Alford like Brain Lickers and Nerds. We also sell refill eco laundry conditioner and fabric conditioner which has a good repeat customer base. We also sell plastic-free shampoo bars and we also sell refill herbs, spices, flour, pasta, sugar and flour.
Any sweet plans for the future?
We’re just going to keep plodding on. It’s great now as our children, Hamish, 18, and William, 16, help out in the shop.
Your chocolate is now award-winning
It was amazing to win the best new business in the Scottish Business Awards in 2021. We really didn’t expect it at all.