The Crooked Elm has taken the crown for the 2020 ‘Sweet As’ Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Challenge with their ‘Granny’s Apple Pie’.
The drink is described by Paul Rowan, owner of The Crooked Elm, as “tastes just like your grandma made, a spiced apple & custard with a white chocolate after taste. The flavours come in waves, just like Willy Wonka’s famous blueberry pie and custard lolly.”
It’s the most unique take on a hot chocolate the challenge has seen over the years and certainly won the hearts of hot chocolate enthusiasts from all over the region. Paul wanted to connect his hot chocolate entry to the business, an English Pub featuring comfort food like pies.
“The Hot chocolate challenge has firmly put lower Hutt on the culinary map for innovation and is an excellent medium to encourage the community and business owners and workers to venture outside their comfort zone and try something different.” says Paul.
12,158 Sweet As hot chocolates were sold in total – 640 per day on average. This was almost as many as last year, despite the competition definitely being a challenge in light of the recent COVID-19 lockdown. But with a new website, participants could easily check out drink ingredients, opening times and vote online, massively reducing paper wastage.
One Challenger stated “Our average daily sales doubled, we paid all the related invoices, set money aside for the extra wages, put the GST into another account and topped up the staff leave account so I’m feeling very proud of myself.”
“Hot chocolate can be a delicious way to encourage people to support their local businesses here in Central Hutt, and the support they received from the general public was incredible,” says Cyndi Christensen, Hutt City Council CBD Development Manager.
The community also showed fantastic support of the QuarterPast Hot Chocolate Hour Pop-up, which featured a design your own hot chocolate in exchange for a donation to the Lower Hutt Food Bank. Nearly $500 cash and hundreds of dollars in food items were donated over the 12 hours the pop-up was open.
This year’s Challengers are incredibly thankful for the continued excitement for Sweet As Challenge and are looking towards their next hot chocolate creation, but for now it’s back to the drawing board as they prepare for the Cool As Challenge in January 2021.