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Win a pair of tickets to the Red Dress Ball this Saturday

LADY IN RED: The Red Dress Ball will include live PAs from comedian Curtis Walker and Hill Street Soul singer Hilary Mwelwe (image credit: Angel Sanchez)

THE UK’s version of Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball will be launched on September 30 and one of the night's star attractions will be the launch of award-winning chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory's Pure Indulgence range as well as appearances from Hill Street Soul singer Hilary Mwelwe, X Factor's Jennifer Phillips and comedian Curtis Walker.

The inaugural Red Dress Ball will take place at the prestigious Institute of Directors (IOD), in Pall Mall, house to a treasure trove of arts, valued at over £10m.

The organiser of the autumn party Emma Adams, believes London lacks a prestigious annual event on par with Winfrey’s gathering.

The managing director of events company MMCo World discussing the venture said:

“The Red Dress Ball has been launched to introduce a new era of high-quality entertainment, but in a setting where business can be discussed; hence why the Institute of Directors was chosen. The IOD sets standards and supports business, which is what the Red Dress Ball will also achieve."

In a market which is expected to be worth £97.62 billion in two years, Gregory is a rising star.


HOB-NOBBING: From left - Chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield with a chocolate sculpture of Schofield, courtesy of Gregory

During an illustrious career, 47 year-old Gregory's hand-crafted chocolates have been eaten at the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations and sold at prestigious establishments such as Fortnum & Mason, Harrods and Selfridges, in London.

Now, after eight years of producing an array of award winning chocolates, the entrepreneur of Jamaican heritage is poised to make further ripples in the industry by launching an ‘affordable range’ of luxury chocolates; Pure Indulgence.

Gregory, the only award-winning black chocolatier, has worked with some of the leading industry names, such as Oriol Balaguer in Spain and Mon. Jean Valentine in Paris. He now believes the market is primed for his range.

Speaking exclusively to The Voice before the launch of Pure Indulgence, Gregory said:

“Paul Wayne Gregory Chocolates has always catered for the top 5% of chocolate consumers, but following the credit crunch market habits changed. Chocolate-lovers are now demanding more value for money.


SPECIAL GUEST: Hill Street Soul's Hillary Mwelwe will sing at the Red Dress Ball this Saturday

“In my opinion, everyone should be able to enjoy five-star chocolates. By changing our working methods we use the same recipes, but lower the price, with the aim of helping a greater number of chocolate-lovers enjoy high quality produce.”

The Indulgence range, which will be launched at the Red Dress Ball, at the Institute of Directors on the September 30, will retail at £19.95 and is available online, to quickly adapt to customers' shopping needs. According to the chocolatier similar boxes retail at approximately £29. The Indulgence range will not only be distinguished by its affordability; but quality.

Each chocolate in the new range has received an award such as the Academy of Chocolate, Guild of Fine Food and the Observer Food Award, given to Gregory by industry doyens.

Commenting on the concept behind his new venture Gregory explained:

“Over a period of six years I decided not to launch another box, until all 12 chocolates featured in Pure Indulgence received an award.

“The ingredients are key and so I only use fresh cocoa, fresh purees and I don’t use essence or artificial flavourings. When I make rum chocolates I don’t use rum flavouring, but use real rum from Jamaica. For the passion fruit fillings I have opted for real passion fruit from South Africa and the raspberries are from the British countryside.


BELLY LAUGHS: Curtis Walker will perform a live comedy set at the ball

“I’m not saying my Indulgence range are the best chocolates in the world, but they are the best chocolates at their price."

The new Indulgence range will be available in four different boxes; three possessing four different flavours and one containing all 12, including Blue Mountain coffee, spiced praline, mint and salted caramel.

The maverick has additional ideas to refresh the sector, one of which is to launch 1000 boxes of chocolates, costing £1000 each; in two years time. This super high-end range will be available on a pre-order basis.

To facilitate the marketing of the new product Gregory and his wife are seeking an investor who will be willing to plough up to £100,000 into the business, with an expected financial return in 18 months.

The production of hand crafted chocolates is only one half of the entrepreneur’s business. In 2009, the London-based company Paul Wayne Gregory Limited was started, specialising in designing and supplying edible bespoke centre displays and sculptures.

In eight years a host of celebrities and sports personalities have allowed their faces to be carved out of chocolate by the artist, including TV personalities Phillip Schofield, Russell Brand, Olympic Gold medallist Amy Williams and footballers such as Enner Valencia, the Ecuadorian international. The chocolatier’s corporate clients have been Bentley, Microsoft and Arsenal FC.


THAT SPECIAL INGREDIENT: The X Factor's Jennifer Phillips will grace attendees with her presence on the 30th

Gregory’s story encompasses what entrepreneurial folklore is made of. After completing his training at various Michelin Star restaurants and working with world-class patisseries and chocolate chefs abroad he returned to London, in 1999. The chocolatier then experienced a long period of unemployment.

Eventually a friend who was the head chef at the Gherkin in London gave him an opportunity, by asking him to make chocolates for their restaurant. Recalling the pivotal period in his career, Gregory said:

“I started working from home creating chocolates in the night and looking for a job in the day. But the one thing I knew from travelling and working in various high-end establishments is that quality sells itself.

“Eventually I took all my skills and moved into an industrial unit in Sussex, with no investor and little money. But what I did have was a burning desire to show the world what I meant by, ‘indulgence is everything’”.

At the launch of Pure Indulgence at the Red Dress Ball, there will be tasting sessions and the opportunity to observe how Gregory creates his artistic pieces from chocolate.

COMPETITION:

To win a pair of tickets to this Saturday's Red Dress Ball at the Institute of Directors in London, email the answer to the following question along with your name, address and telephone number to competitions@thevoicemediagroup.co.uk by noon on Thursday September 28, 2017:

How old is chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory?

A. 47

B. 57

C. 37

To buy tickets to the Red Dress Ball now, click here.

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