This photo comes from the very early 1980s, a year or so before Chantal opened Rococo Chocolates.
‘We were living in a squat in a square near Vauxhall,’ she tells me. ‘These were my student days. That Tuscan scene in the background was painted by the artist Frank Taylor, who lived there at the time and decorated our King’s Road shop, helped by some of our other friends. There were quite a few people living there, it was quite fluid .
It was absolutely freezing – we’d wake up with ice on the inside of the windows in winter, and our only method of heating was to turn the grill and the oven on and leave the door open. There was only one hot tap in the whole house, so you’d have to carry water down from the bathroom to the kitchen to wash up. When we could finally afford a plumber that’s the first thing we fixed, and turning on a hot tap in the kitchen was a momentous occasion!
It was brilliant fun though, a very cool time with lots of parties, and it felt very exciting and radical to be part of such an incredible group of creative people. We ate well and were famous, particularly after Mark Prizeman joined the house, for conjuring incredible dinners when people randomly turned up. In fact, Mark’s now our architect, and he’s still well-known for that.’