Aldi's Next Big Thing judges say 'you're a genius' over Brummie's alternative chocolate bar

A Brummie-based chocolate-maker's sweet creation wowed judges as they appeared on Channel 4's show Aldi's Next Big Thing. Dr Johnny Drain's chocolate has been created with a combination of legumes and cereal, and is available in flavours of salted caramel and crunchy hazelnut.

The idea is to use an alternative ingredient to cocoa. This takes away the environmental and ethical impacts of shipping the cocoa ingredients across the world, using child labour and deforestation. Read more about his product here.

Dr Drain, who hails from Bourneville, runs Win-Win Food Labs alongside business partner Ahrum Pak. The panellists of the show commented on the chocolate having a "nice feel".

READ MORE: Aldi's Next Big Thing Birmingham contestant rivalling Cadbury's over ethical chocolate

Get breaking news on BirminghamLive WhatsApp, click the link to join

"We've been Willy Wonka about this, this is the world's first cocoa-free chocolate," he explained. Johnny, a leading global fermentation expert, revealed he "grew up near a very big chocolate factory in Birmingham and I’ve always loved chocolate".

He said: "I came up with the idea for cocoa free chocolate while boiling potatoes. I smelt the steam and thought it smelt like hot chocolate which triggered the light-bulb moment: 'can you make something that tastes like chocolate that’s not from a cocoa bean?'"

The recipe is a secret. He added: "When people try our products, they can’t believe it’s not chocolate and I really hope Julie has that same experience."

Dr Drain revealed he works with ingredients like "oats and barley" and when questioned how the process worked, he explained how he ferments, roasts and mixes together ingredient. The panellists were all impressed. Anita Rani, the presenter, said: "My mind is slightly blown."

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, said: "The product is excellent, it is really surprising. It is ticking lots of boxes, I think the concern here is I'm not sure the mass consumer are aware that there's a problem. And it is trying to get across the message."

Anita asks Julie for her thoughts and she replies: "I think your product is excellent and the fact that your quality is so excellent means you should continue doing this but, as much as I want to put excellent quality products in an Aldi store, this isn't really for us right now. I think this is too soon without the market understanding the need for the solution you are providing here. But I absolutely think you should carry on with what you are doing."

Chris Bavin added: "It's genius. It is nothing short of genius." Dr Drain added: "Thanks for your time and great feedback."