Keith Hurdman

Posted on January 13, 2013 by  Lee Mccoy

Keith is well in line with many other British chocolatiers in the fact that he began his love affair with confectionery at a very young age. In 1976, Keith Hurdman was student at Worcester College where he studied catering. On his off-hours, he worked at a bakery practicing and perfecting what he had determined was his life calling. By 1978, Hurdman had moved on to the National Bakery School in London and obtained an important role at Hyde Park Hotel, working as the Commis Pastry Chef. This began the journey that ultimately led Keith Hurdman to the renowned British chocolate company, Thorntons.

Training With the Very Best

Though Keith had gained a good deal of experience and schooling for such as young man, with professional success accompanying these experiences, he wanted to do and be more. By 1980, Keith had decided to move from general patisserie and focus specifically on fine chocolate making. Keith Hurdman moved to Switzerland, where he felt the best opportunities were for mastering the art of chocolate. He apprenticed with several masters, often starting from the bottom of an organization that he really wanted to learn from and leaving behind the renown and titles that he had already become accustomed to. In 1985, Hurdman entered the Richemont Confectionery School in Lucerne, Switzerland. Four years later, he moved on to the International Sugar School Ewald Notter in Zurich, Switzerland. Keith worked hard at every school and training opportunity he had, determined to gain as much knowledge at each placement as possible. He learned not only how to refine cocoa beans, but also how to mould and build edible art with the confection.

Realizing a Dream

After more than ten years of Swiss training, Keith Hurdman began to realize the dreams and goals that he had set for himself; his work was recognized publicly as excellent in the field. He won his first award for chocolate making in 1992- a gold medal from the World Culinary Exhibition in Basle. He spent the next decade perfecting his craft and garnering many other awards for his taste and technique, including the International Belgian Chocolate Award. In 2000, he was christened the Champion Confectioner of Switzerland.

Returning to Home Ground

After approximately 22 years training with Swiss masters, Keith Hurdman made the decision to return to his native England. He initially was employed as an executive confectioner for Betty and Taylors. He took some time off in 2005, traveling to locations such as Russia to pass on his craft to less experienced hands. In 2006, Hurdman was affiliated with Melt Chocolates, a venture that added to his pile of awards. Keith spent over two years at both British confectionery companies before joining the staff at Thorntons in 2008.

Finding a Home at Thorntons

In late 2008, Thorntons recruited Keith Hurdman to join their staff. Decades of experience and numerous awards made Keith extremely appealing to the popular, high-end British chocolate maker. Keith Hurdman now holds the title of Master Chocolatier at Thorntons. He is responsible for managing a team of chocolatiers and developing products for the company. He also works on promotional campaigns such as the launch of the Continental City Boxes chocolates, themed after the major French cities of Paris and Milan. As part of this campaign, a giant replica of the Eiffel Tower was constructed entirely of chocolate for public display. His Swiss training shines strong on these types of projects, as chocolate sculpting is certainly nothing new for Keith. Since joining Thorntons, Keith and his team have won even more awards, awarded by industry giants as varied as the British Open Culinary Championships, the Academy of Chocolate and the Scottish Culinary Championship.

It is impossible to predict where Keith Hurdman will go from here. While he is currently challenged and fulfilled in his role at Thorntons, he may very well take the path of many of his British contemporaries and take the plunge into independent chocolate making. Whatever his future ventures are, however, it is safe to say they are likely to continue to be wildly successful. The skill and dedication that have been a part of Keith’s life for over thirty years should carry him through whatever the future brings.

Laurent Couchaux

Katrina Markoff

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