“It’s a long story - longer than we have time for - for how I ended up in Scotland,” says Scotland’s Chocolatier of the year 2018.
I’m visiting Winchburgh resident Sebastian Kobelt, pâtissier and chocolatier, at his shop on Linlithgow High Street. It is a treasure trove of beautifully presented and innovative artisan chocolate and fine patisserie. I’m tempted to get some special Christmas shopping done on the spot.
“This is where my creativity happens, and where I can display it,” he explains. It’s where his buyers from Waldorf Astoria, Gleneagles and other luxury hotels can come and see what Sebastian can do. He is a dessert chef and wholesale supplier for luxury hotels across Scotland, which he runs from a commercial kitchen in Linlithgow. But here on the high street, we all get a chance to see and taste his fabulous creations.
Growing up in East Germany before the wall came down, Sebastian spent a lot of time at his grandfather’s bakery business. “He sold traditional German breads - sourdough, rye bread and so on. Baking has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
So when time came to pick a career it was hardly a choice. The early morning starts of a bakery were not really for him though! He specialises in desserts, pâtisserie and chocolate instead. After an apprenticeship in Berlin, he worked on cruise ships, then moved on to hotels, spending time in the Middle East (making luxury desserts that wouldn’t melt in the heat) and then Ireland.
“Always in my life I am looking for ways to challenge myself, and dealing with the language in Ireland was certainly a challenge,” he jokes. His career since then has seen him working at Dalhousie Castle, being invited to the World Chocolate Masters competition – in which he represented Germany at the finals – being Head Pastry Chef at RBS, then working with Michelin starred chef Tom Kitchin in Edinburgh.
Eventually though, he wanted to do his own thing. “I like luxury desserts and chocolates, I like to create something that triggers an emotion. I also like to take something existing and add my own twist to it.” Such as the dark chocolate-coated tablet he sells – what a great idea to offset the very sweet tablet with his luxury dark chocolate.
This year Sebastian is celebrating being awarded Scotland’s Chocolatier of the Year by the Scottish Foods Awards and Academy. He has launched his online shop; but here in Linlithgow we are lucky to be able to go into the shop and buy selection boxes, truffles and a range of other sweet delicacies. Everything is beautifully packaged in small quantities for retail, so you can treat yourself to the experience or get some special Linlithgow-made chocolate for Christmas gifts.
Sebastian Kobelt is at 34 High Street, Linlithgow, EH49 7AE. Open Friday & Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sundays 12 noon to 4pm. Outwith these hours, he can be found at his Mill Road Industrial Estate kitchen, Unit 2, where you can also purchase direct from the kitchen.
Tel: 01506 840602
Published in Konect November 2018
Author: Helen-Jane Shearer