Explore The Careless Collection with MasterChef finalist David Crichton
Discover the first-ever MasterChef dish that was created for the show and brought to life for retail.
By Faith Richardson
Originally from Shiremoor, David Crichton hadn’t always dreamt of being a chocolatier; instead, he left when he was 21 to follow his passion of working in the aviation industry. However after 17 years working as a pilot with Thomas Cook, in 2018 he took the plunge and applied to MasterChef to try out his love of food and cooking in a competitive setting. He made it all the way to the final, but it was during one of his most successful rounds that he struck gold with his chocolate. When tasked with creating a dish for his idol, David chose George Michael and created the “Careless Wispa” – a clever play on words and the beginning of his successes with chocolate.
He was inundated with requests on social media to recreate it but put it off as the dish was “unreliable”, but after some convincing he decided to give it a go and taught himself some more advanced chocolatier techniques. His research took him to various markets where he realised he had something truly unique, and The Careless Collection was born, and became the first dish made on MasterChef to be sold in retail.
It started off as a hobby, but when the pandemic hit and the aviation industry was all but gone for the foreseeable future, David decided this was the perfect time to try his hand at making this a viable career. His flavours are what sets him apart from other competitors; he recently won two star awards for his Classic Dark bar and Pistachio Cremino.
“My palate is probably my best attribute, as I have a poor sense of smell. So everything needs to be bold and textures are very important too. Put this all together and you should have a great product.” His exciting and unusual flavours were one of his biggest assets during his time on MasterChef, so it was only natural that these carried on into his chocolate bars, too.
Drawing flavour inspiration from everywhere, his beer and biscuit bar was inspired by the city of Manchester – looking to do something different from the usual tart, Boddington’s beer and the local McVities factory sprang to mind, and the beer and biscuit bar was an instant hit. He has since evolved the beer from Boddington’s to Newcastle Brown Ale – the perfect nod to his North East roots. David’s creative approach to chocolate is evident in his flavours, and he loves coming up with his next creation. “Chocolate is like cheese and wine to me. So many different varieties, so many different feels and tastes. You then have a great medium to work with to let your imagination run wild.”
He makes all his bars himself, with a careful process that involves creating the shell (the top and sides) first, then filling it with his unique flavours, before layering more chocolate to create the bottom. Once that’s done, the bars should easily come out of the moulds, although it’s a tense moment – if anything goes wrong, he has nothing to sell. Doing it all by hand adds an extra personal touch to the bars and sets them apart from factory-made commercial products. Currently, The Careless Collection bars are only sold on his website, but David is interested in supplying to bigger department stores such as Fenwick to help grow his customer base and introduce his product to a larger market. However, maintaining his hands-on approach and ensuring quality control of his products is something he cares a lot about – avoiding mass production is key.
Each of his bars are always well received, so next up is increasing turnover and exposure and help people find The Careless Collection bars. Evolving The Careless Collection to become a sustainable business is one of David’s big goals for the future. Despite not being totally redundant from the aviation business, with the uncertainty of the current pandemic and the future for many businesses he’s keen to turn this into something that allows him to survive and thrive, as well as putting his passion for food and flavour to work. There are some big plans for 2021; looking to work on smaller, more bitesize bars is on his to-do list, producing single bar servings to suit the wedding market and creating his very own advent calendars ready for Christmas.