It’s the perfect gift for the wildlife enthusiast who is also a chocoholic – a 30 inch high model gorilla smothered in the finest Belgian chocolate. Chico – as he has been named - has been made by The Cockington Chocolate Company in support of Paignton Zoo’s Great Gorillas Project. The project is celebrating the Zoo’s 90th birthday. Life-size model gorillas are being sponsored by businesses and community groups, painted in original designs by specially-commissioned artists and displayed in public, creating a unique art trail around Torbay and Exeter. Although at 78cm tall and 76cm long, Cheeky chocolate Chico is rather smaller than the outdoor gorillas, it still took 10 kilos of chocolate to cover him. Award-winning Chef Tony Fagan and his partner Simon Storey opened the Cockington Chocolate Company after seeing chocolate made by hand in the South of France. Tony says the job was extremely fiddly and took a week to complete. The model was sterilised and the chocolate applied in delicate 5mm layers to avoid cracking using a palette knife and piping bags. Wrapped in cellophane, the finished creation will keep for up to six months. Why did the Cockington Chocolate Company want to get involved? Tony: “We cannot resist a challenge - and what could be more challenging than covering a gorilla in chocolate? Also, we admire the work Paignton Zoo does for species worldwide.” Chico will be raffled to raise money for Paignton Zoo, which is a registered conservation charity. “It is edible – and when it’s gone, you have a gorilla statue!” The Cockington Chocolate Company is based in the Sea Change craft centre behind Cockington Court, where they also run the successful Tea Rooms. For many years the pair ran Torquay's highly rated Orange Tree Restaurant. Tony went on an intensive course with top chocolate house Slattery in Manchester to hone his skills and fulfil a lifetime ambition to become a Chocolatier. They are also supplying bespoke chocolate to the Zoo in support of the Great Gorillas Project. The gorilla model is covered in Equadorian Arriba chocolate, a blend of the Forestero and Trinitario beans.
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