The story of Red Carnation Hotels is primarily a love story, beginning in the early 1950s, when a beautiful young woman named Bea caught the eye of a distinguished young hotelier named Stanley Tollman. The red carnation Stanley wore in his lapel became a symbol of their blooming relationship and was eventually adopted by The Red Carnation Hotel Collection – a collection that they built together – as a symbol of enduring love.

Their love was one for the ages, memorialised by the remarkable legacy Stanley built. In 2020, Mrs Tollman commissioned 90 cherry blossom trees to be planted on the Ashford Estate in celebration of Mr Tollman’s 90th birthday. This spring, we will see the trees in full bloom, lining the avenue at Ashford Castle. This brings us to the theme of this year’s easter egg: an egg painted with cherry blossoms, symbolising a true love story encapsulated by nature.

We spoke with Paula Stakelum, Red Carnation Hotels’ incredibly talented Director of Chocolate and Pâtisserie, about her vision for the 2022 Ashford Castle Easter egg and the work that went into developing this chocolate masterpiece.

Ashford Castle Easter egg

What else can you tell us about the theme for Ashford Castle’s 2022 egg?

The overall theme is “A sense of place”, which essentially refers to the the lens through which people make meaning of their experiences within and with a place. The ‘place’ will be Ashford and the design of the egg represents this place. The vibrant and subtle shades of pink are to symbolise our cherry blossom avenue at Ashford Castle.

Can you talk us through the physical attributes of the egg?

The egg is hand painted and is crafted using our bespoke Valrhona chocolate couverture, ‘Legend’. Inside, the egg is packed with Mrs Tollman’s famous chocolate shards.

Our ‘Legend’ chocolate has been created with a 55% cocoa content, for a rich milk chocolate tasting experience. Led by the cocoa, the first taste offers slight fresh milk notes, followed by hints of sweet vanilla and biscuit, enhanced by floral and honey aromas. The chocolate has a strength that is not overpowering and lingers delicately.

Besides its incredible taste, why did Ashford Castle choose to partner with Valrhona chocolate?

The cocoa beans for our chocolate are sustainably sourced in keeping with Ashford Castle’s sustainability ethos. This ethos is led by Red Carnation Hotels’ parent company, The Travel Corporation (TTC) and its not-for-profit organisation, The TreadRight Foundation. The TreadRight Foundation is committed to progressing sustainable tourism, benefitting the people, places and wildlife impacted by tourism.

Ashford Castle Easter egg