Charlie and the Chocolate Factory almost came to life last week when a TV show featured a group of children taking over Chichester’s Montezuma’s.
The Birdham chocolate company and its East Street shop provided the backdrop for an episode of a Channel 4 documentary in which a group of children become chocolatiers for a week.
The three-part Channel 4 prime time series, called When I Grow Up, follows young children from a range of backgrounds as they explore their own career aspirations in a variety of businesses.
Aged between six and eight, the youngsters were welcomed to Montezuma’s head office, where a custom fitted kitchen was provided to enable them to design, make and taste new chocolate bars and buttons.
Leave children with a vat of molten chocolate and you can just imagine what happened next.
The children also had the opportunity to work in Montezuma’s East Street, Chichester, shop, serving customers and trying out their managerial skills.
Like an episode of The Apprentice, the children took a trip to John Lewis in London where they pitched their own chocolate creations – made specially for Father’s Day – to the company’s buyers.
They had even created the designs for the boxes.
The series, which takes the form of a social experiment, offered children from a wide variety of backgrounds and UK locations the chance to get involved in ‘running’ a real business over several days.
The aim was to provide the chance for the children to broaden their horizons at an age when the social self is first being formed.
Helen Pattinson, Montezuma’s co-founder, said: “The opportunity to work with the documentary film makers on this project was really exciting – particularly as many of us are parents ourselves.
“We had a fantastic week with the children – and their families – as they spent time with us developing their own recipes and seeing how we produce and sell our delicious chocolate.
“It was great to show them how we weave our beliefs and values into the way we run our business – from minimising our impact on the planet to how we treat our suppliers, customers and staff.
“It’s also important to us to ensure that we do our best to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs so that British business – and chocolate making – continues to go from strength to strength.”
Melanie Loudonsack, producer at Optomen Television, who created the series, added: “We approached Montezuma’s as we felt its reputation as an innovative, fun and independent chocolate company was a great fit, with lots of scope for creativity and a variety of roles and areas for the children to be involved in, giving them the opportunity to really understand the origins of chocolate.
“It was fantastic to see the children trying different job roles whilst sharing their ideas, suggestions, wit and wisdom.”
The series was produced by Optomen Television and filming took place in May 2018 at Montezuma’s head office, Chocolate Towers, in Birdham, and in the company’s Chichester shop.
The episode featuring Montezuma’s aired on May 9.
You can watch it on Channel 4’s catch up website at https://www.channel4.com/programmes/when-i-grow-up