A day in the life...

Discover what it takes to run your own chocolate business. A day in the life of UK World Chocolate Master Ruth Hinks at Cocoa Black in Peebles, Scotland reveals all.


5am. The alarm buzzes in the family home, and Ruth’s up at dawn to get her young family ready for the day ahead. Today, Aiden’s gearing up for his taekwondo grading, and Delphine’s got her weekly piano lesson.

On most days, Ruth will take one of the kids into The Chocolate Factory before school, just a ten-minute drive from home. Ruth’s first job each morning is to switch on her clunky old Italian coffee machine, for a vital dose of chef’s petrol (coffee).

Morning in the Chocolate Factory

Then it’s straight into the production kitchen, to oversee the preparation of the day’s luxury chocolate, cakes and patisserie for the Cocoa Black boutique and online shop.

Today, pastry chefs Seren and Zoe are working up a delectable new cake recipe, the Tweed Tart, using honey, raspberry and fresh cream sourced from along the Tweed valley. They’re assisted by Hannah, a Californian chef spending time at Cocoa Black after a work placement at Fäviken, one of the world’s top restaurants.

By 8am, Ruth’s husband David makes an appearance, and takes Aiden and Delphine to school, with whatever tasty treats they’ve made for their classmates.

timeout at Cocoa Black

With the day’s preparations complete by 10am, Ruth takes the short drive to the Cocoa Black boutique in Peebles, to help set out the cake counter and chat with customers and shop manager Debbie.

Today’s likely to be a particularly busy day in the shop, as the Tour of Britain cycle race is passing through Peebles – so a lot of cyclists are in town, looking for a quick energy boost!

The girls in the shop are quietly hopeful that world champion cyclist Mark Cavendish will pay a return visit to Cocoa Black during his stop over in Peebles.

Afternoon in the chocolate school

12 noon. Next stop: The Chocolate & Pastry School. Today Ruth and the team are hosting a corporate event for 40 staff from Baillie Gifford, who have come down by coach from Edinburgh.

We’re delighted to see a few familiar faces from last year, and everyone quickly relaxes and sets about preparing their chocolate truffles, pralines and ganache. They clearly have a great time, as everyone’s all smiles afterwards, and they’ve booked again for next year.

happy time with the family

After school, it’s time to go home for the next task of the day – helping the kids with their homework!

Today, Delphine has to make a short film, so Ruth lends a hand with the iPhone, then David takes over while Ruth prepares dinner – the kids’ favourite: Ruthie’s meatballs.

An evening amongst friends

6pm. Ruth answers the door to four of the UK’s top pastry chefs, who have travelled up from London for a chocolate masterclass by a visiting international guest chef.  Around the dinner table tonight, she welcomes Graham Hornigold (Hakkasan), Hideko Kawa (The Fat Duck) and Joakim Pratt (Maitre Choux), and Martin Chiffers (UK Pastry Team President).

No pressure! But we’re all among friends, and an easy-going bunch. The wine and laughter flows, tales are told, and when it comes to dessert, time-pressed Ruth has a surprise in store – supermarket sticky toffee pudding!

10pm. Ruth is fast asleep, dreaming of chocolate…