London's real Willy Wonkas

Step into a world where anything is edible with London's most creative confectioners (then try their tricks for yourself!)

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They’ve made houses out of chocolate, oceans out of jelly and ice cream that tastes like Christmas. As a big new musical version of Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ opens in London, we went in search of London’s real-life Willy Wonkas – and their amazing creations.

Bompas & Parr

© Ed Marshall


Mad-scientist-artist-jellymaker Sam Bompas tells Daisy Bowie-Sell how he and partner Harry Parr began experimenting with food as a hobby in 2007 and haven’t looked back.

Why jelly?
‘It’s a unique food: the wobble makes everyone smile and the first bite is with the eye. We also like its challenges – we had to learn from scratch how to model architectural jellies.’

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever made?
‘A five-ton architectural jelly sea around the SS Great Britain. It was the length of two Olympic swimming pools and took an entire day to make.’

Was that also the hardest thing you’ve attempted?
‘Actually, it was relatively easy. The hardest was a four-ton chocolate waterfall and climbing wall, which we made for Alton Towers. Because it was for a themepark, it had to be made to the same spec as a North Sea oil rig.’

What’s your biggest disaster?
‘I once almost puked live on TV. A young producer kept pushing us to make ever-wackier flavoured jellies. I made one that was blackcurrant blancmange and zebra meat. It’s not good to taste one of your own jellies and then vomit.’

What’s your favourite flavour?
‘Durian. It’s a fruit from Southeast Asia and it smells like cat sick but tastes like caramel. You keep on having flashbacks of the taste for the next 24 hours – it’s like LSD.’

Is there one thing you’d really like to create?

‘One of my culinary heroes is the nineteenth-century French chef Alexis Soyer. His party trick was cooking an entire cow in one go and making all the different parts taste good. I’d love to do that.’

Bompas & Parr’s giant ‘fruit salad’ boating lake is at Kew Gardens Nov 3.

Try making Bompas and Parr’s flavour-changing chewing gum

Mad jelly-sculpting geniuses Bompas and Parr are the closest thing to a real-life Willy Wonka you’re likely to find. Even though making chewing gum at home isn’t really a practical proposition, here’s a look at their fascinating method for making flavour-changing gum…

Makes 10 pieces

Ingredients:
- 10g gum base
- 6g glucose
- 1g glycerine
- 0.25ml conventional flavouring, such as strawberry
- 0.25ml micro-encapsulated flavouring, such as pineapple
- 1.5ml citric acid
- 1.5ml water
- 2 drops pink food colouring
- 18g icing sugar

  • Step 1

    Get hold of some gum base, which is harder than it sounds. Technically described as a non-nutritative, non-digestible masticatory product, it’s a plastic with zero nutritional value and the key ingredient in chewing gum. The minimum order from manufacturers across the globe is a quarter of a ton – so only attempt if you aim to make a lot of gum. Or you’ve got friends who want to join in. Once you have the gum base, melt 10g of it together with the glucose and glycerine. Leave to cool.

    Step 1
  • Step 2

    Place the mix in a plastic bowl and heat in the microwave for around 2 minutes. The time will vary slightly depending on your microwave, but the mix should be heated until it begins to bubble like lava. Stir.

    Step 2
  • Step 3

    Once it’s bubbling, you have to act quickly. Add flavouring: 0.25ml of conventional flavouring and 0.25ml of micro-encapsulated flavouring. Then add 1.5ml of citric acid and 1.5ml of water. Stir.

    Step 3
  • Step 4

    Add half of the icing sugar to the gum and knead until mixed, then add the remaining icing sugar to the mixture and knead again.

    Step 4
  • Step 5

    Pick a suitable food colouring and add 2 drops to the mixture. Knead until it’s evenly mixed through.

    Step 5
  • Step 6

    Sprinkle some icing sugar onto the table. Roll the gum out into a long sausage.

    Step 6
  • Step 7

    Chop into chewing gum-sized portions.

    Step 7

Step 1

Get hold of some gum base, which is harder than it sounds. Technically described as a non-nutritative, non-digestible masticatory product, it’s a plastic with zero nutritional value and the key ingredient in chewing gum. The minimum order from manufacturers across the globe is a quarter of a ton – so only attempt if you aim to make a lot of gum. Or you’ve got friends who want to join in. Once you have the gum base, melt 10g of it together with the glucose and glycerine. Leave to cool.

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Users say

2 comments
Jonny and Amy
Jonny and Amy

Easily the the funnest, most delicious, exciting and every updating, tasty ice cream place in London. It always tastes amazing, everyone is very helpful, extremely pleasant and the atmosphere is perfect - chilled out and fun. We've lost count of the number of times we've hurried from the tube station/bus stops to get there before closing.

Lisa
Lisa

I am from Manchester and whenever I visit London, I make sure to fit in a trip to Camden for a scoop (or two) of Chin Chin ice cream. It's incredible to watch the process...and the ice cream itself? The best you will ever taste. 5 stars aren't enough for this hidden gem, highly recommended.

More about 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'

Watch interviews with the cast and production team and get your hands on those golden tickets with our 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' information page. Read more about the production

  1. Theatre Royal Drury Lane
  2. Until Sat Nov 30

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