Five minutes with… Elizabeth Jackson

The co-creator of Cocoa Runners on Instagram city guides, single-origin craft chocolate and switching off

Food and Drink 23 Dec 2019

Elizabeth Jackson

Elizabeth Jackson

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career?

To admit to any mistakes and learn from them quickly. It’s always tempting to want to bask in successes and forget about failures, but there’s a lot to be learned from taking a minute to figure out why things might not have panned out as expected.

Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?

It’s so hard to choose just one! My parents’ work ethic has been hugely inspirational to me for as long as I can remember. They always taught me the value of hard work, the importance of fully committing to projects and the true value of preparation.

What ingredient can you not live without and why?

Single-origin craft chocolate. It has utterly changed my view of chocolate – something I very much took for granted – since I discovered it six years ago.

What do you look for in the perfect chocolate bar?

I want to know the story behind the bar – who farmed the beans, where in the world are they based, when were they harvested. I also want to know who is the maker, and what method have they used to turn the chocolate from bean to bar. I’m very mindful about what I eat and drink, and I want to know what’s inside the bar – has the maker chosen to fill the bar with vanilla, vegetable fats, oils, etc. or have they chosen to keep it simple – using cocoa, sugar and perhaps a splash of milk?

How does cooking chocolate differ from other chocolates?

It doesn’t have to! I find that the best cooking chocolate in the world is made using the same principles as outlined above – very simple, from bean to bar, with the focus on bringing out the flavour of the beans rather than masking the flavour with artificial inclusions and infusions. The one point of difference I often find is the format – my favourite cooking chocolate comes as pastilles or buttons rather than bars – they melt quicker and are easier to work with all round.

What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?

Instagram. It’s completely changed the way in which I explore cities. Ten years ago I would have felt lost if I’d left my trusty guide book in my hotel. And yes, I will always have a soft spot for a handy travel guide, but I find that Instagram is indispensable as a bang up to date way to explore the best food and drink a city has to offer. From providing inspiration for places to eat out to what to order when you get there

Where is your favourite place to eat in London?

Being a morning person means that I am I always up bright and early for baked treats at Jolene, they make everything from scratch each day. They do the most amazing pastries – my absolute favourite has to be the maple and chocolate milk bun.

What do you like to do on a day off?

I’m very lucky that several of my best friends from high school and university have all migrated from Manchester to London over the years. I love to catch up with them – whether we’re going for a walk on Hampstead Heath, or pottering round an exhibition.

Apart from chocolate/food, what are your biggest passions?

Travel and theatre. I try to get to the theatre at least once a month, and to take an off-grid trip for at least a fortnight a year. I guess the common thread there is that I find switching off and disconnecting from my normal world super energising – even if its only for an hour or two on a rainy Saturday afternoon.