Is good cooking a science or an art? Probably, like most things done well, a bit of both. But what is definite is that many Oxford scientists make good cooks.

Notably there was Professor Nicholas Kurti (1908-1998), the Hungarian born scientist who fled the Nazis to Oxford and became distinguished for his work in ultra-low temperature physics at the Clarendon Laboratory.

He managed to create temperatures of a millionth of a degree above absolute zero but his hobby, on which he lectured the Royal Society, was something he called “molecular gastronomy” — or the appliance of science to cooking.

A conversation with Katie Christoffers of Wallingford reminded me of this.

We were talking about her enterprise, Matcha Chocolat, when she revealed that she had trained and worked as a scientist at Oxford University before starting her own business in March last year.

Now her chocolates, sold on the Internet, at a few selected restaurants including The Partridge in Wallingford, and from September 1 at the Gatineau delicatessen in Summertown, has already won six gold medals at this year’s Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food.

Her Rosemary, Raisin and Walnut chocolate won a two star award and her Pink Grapefruit, Cardomon and Banana, Jasmine Pearls, Masala Chai Caramel, and Vietnamese Cinnamon chocolates all took one star.

At least eight judges must taste a food before an award is granted.

Ms Christoffers, 33, from Wallingford, said: “It is a really good scheme and I would recommend other people in the food business to enter. Not only is there the award scheme itself but you receive feedback and advice from the guild.”

An American from Connecticut, Ms Christoffers came to Oxford in 2000 to take her MSc at Hertford College and then she worked for six years in a university biochemistry lab.

She said: “I am interested in the food traditions of other countries and cultures.

“At first I became interested in everything about tea, particularly in Japan — where they often make cakes and chocolates infused with tea.”

And there is the link to her present occupation. In Japanese, Matcha means green and in Japan they drink green tea.

In our discussion about differing tastes throughout the world, we agreed that many nations can to some degree be identified by their chocolate.

For instance, Belgian is different to French or Swiss. And of course there was that embarrassing spat with the European Union not long ago when Eurocrats suggested traditional British chocolate contained too much fat and too little cocoa to even be called chocolate.

“My chocolate is purely international,” insisted Ms Christoffers.

It is made in her purpose-built kitchen at her home in Wallingford with the help of husband Joff Winks, who runs an independent record label.

Ms Christoffers said: “I cannot say what my turnover is yet, but I am selling kilos of chocolate. It is definitely going far better than I thought it would be at this stage when I started up. It is profitable.”

She has no regrets about taking the chocolate plunge and starting up in business on her own account. She said: “Being a chocolatier means wearing several different hats, and I enjoy it. There is marketing, web designing, making chocolate and always starting new projects.”

She explained there are two facets to chocolate making from “bean to bar”.

There is the making of the chocolate in the first place, and then what you combine with it to achieve the finished flavour that you want.

She buys her raw ingredient from France, from a famous chocolatier called Valrhona, based in the small town of Train-l’Hermitage, near Lyons, — well known in the world of chocolatiers for its École du Grand Chocolat, a school for professional chefs with a focus on chocolate-based dishes and pastries.

Ms Christoffers said: “Valrhona makes much of the chocolate that chocolatiers use.”

Perhaps as Brits become increasingly interested in good food from all over the world, thanks to all those TV chefs, it is time we all began experimenting with the taste of chocolate?

Ms Christoffers, of course, would agree with that. But she added: “There is a big difference between the standard chocolate many of us eat and the chocolate I make.”