Willie Harcourt-Cooze

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William "Willie" George Harcourt-Cooze (born London, 29 April 1964), is a British-based chocolate maker and entrepreneur. He came to public prominence in 2008 with the airing of the Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary, Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory, which centred on his efforts to grow, import and produce his own chocolate.[1]


Born to a Burmese father and Irish mother, he has two younger, and two older sisters, as well as a younger brother.[2] His father fled Burma during the Second World War. When Willie was four his father bought Horse Island (51°30′55″N 9°28′03″W / 51.515309°N 9.467401°W / 51.515309; -9.467401) on the south west coast of Ireland between Ballydehob and Schull, where his father started farming and living a self-sufficient life.[3][4]

He attended school in Waterford, Ireland. Returning to England aged eleven, he was unhappy and returned to Ireland after a year where he attended a comprehensive school in Cork. After completing basic schooling there, he moved back to England again to study for his A-levels and was considering following in his father's footsteps and becoming a property developer. In 1982, whilst on a night out with some friends, he was stabbed by an unknown assailant, but made a good recovery. Soon after this happened, he received the news that his father had died. He decided to travel and visited Australia, Peru and the Far East.[3]

Having met the model Tania Coleridge while residing in London, he flew to her home in Los Angeles and proposed.[4]


After marrying, they honeymooned, trekking on horseback in Venezuela where, in 1993, whilst speaking to a beach umbrella salesman he was directed to the 1,000 acres (400 ha) cocoa hacienda El Tesoro (meaning treasure in Spanish), in Choroni.[5] They fell in love with the property before returning to London for a year.[4]

They eventually decided to sell his flat in London, and emigrated to Venezuela to purchase El Tesoro. They planted more than 50,000 cacao trees of the Criollo cultivar, and built up an eco-tourism venture. In 1998 he started making 100% cacao bars for locals from the farm, with moulds made from a clay pipe.[5] In 2008, after being falsely accused, investigated and cleared by the regime of Hugo Chavez for exploitation of locals, they mothballed the farm temporarily.[3][6][7][8][9]

Relocating to a rented property in Devon, England, after several years of assembling suitable equipment, and the resumption of cocoa farming, he began production in 2007 in Uffculme, Devon, filmed by Channel 4.[6][7] In 2008 the TV show was recommissioned for a second series, the follow-up series Willie's Chocolate Revolution: Raising the Bar, aired on Channel 4 on 7–9 April 2009 which followed Harcourt-Cooze's attempt to introduce a high-cacao chocolate bar, "Delectable", to the British market.

Personal life[edit]

Harcourt-Cooze has three children – Sophia, William and Eve, and lives in Tiverton, Devon[6][7] In May 2010 he and his wife separated and as of February 2011 are in the process of getting a divorce.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Willie Harcourt-Cooze - Personally Speaking Bureau". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "One Plus One: Willie Harcourt-Cooze - One Plus One - ABC News" (Video). Australian Broadcasting Corporation website. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Willie Harcourt-Cooze interview: Spilling the beans". The Scotsman. 1 March 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Louette Harding (4 April 2009). "She should cacao: Willie's wife Tania spills the beans". Daily Mail. Retrieved 30 July 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Jill Park (7 May 2009). "Sweet success for Willie's chocolate factory". Packaging News. Retrieved 30 July 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c "Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory". Channel 4. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c Weinberg, Kate (23 February 2008). "Willie's wacky chocolate factory". The Daily Telegraph. 
  8. ^ Goodhart, Benjie. "Interview: Willie Harcourt-Cooze". News. Channel 4 Sales. Archived from the original on 15 March 2008. 
  9. ^ Wynn-Davies, Patricia (17 March 2004). "Me and My Home: At home with history". The Independent. 
  10. ^ "Willie & The Chocolate Factory". Bmi Voyager. 

External links[edit]