Here at Dexam, we are known for our sweet tooth and our support of other local companies. One local company that we are particularly fond of and that is Noble and Stace. A local chocolatier based in Easebourne, we took 10 minutes out of founder Mike Nobles time to discuss inspiration, favourite flavours and where readers can sample his delicious chocolate!
Q- What inspired you to set up your business?
It was actually an idea that we had a few years before when we were running a small B&B, but it was put on the backburner until it was the right time. That time came when we moved to West Sussex and having had the experience of the B&B business and realising that we had the space to create a chocolate kitchen at home, we decided to give it a go!
Q- Since creating Noble and Stace, what has been one of the biggest challenges to date?
To be honest it’s hard to pin it down to one challenge. There seem to be so many when you’re a one-man business trying to wear every hat! But last summer we expanded the chocolate kitchen with the help of a local grant. First of all it was a lot of work to win the grant and then planning the expansion, having the work done and trying to still run the business at the same time was a bit of a juggle!
Q- What skill has been the most difficult to perfect, essential in creating delicious chocolates?
I think that has to be tempering the chocolate. Tempering is the process where you melt the chocolate before using it to shell moulds, decorate chocolates or dip truffles. It’s all about getting it to exactly the right temperature so that when it sets again it’s smooth, shiny, streak free and has that perfect snap!
Q- What’s your favourite flavour of chocolate?
I’m a bit of a sweet tooth at heart so I love salted caramel, but a close second is anything that I make with Gin in it!
Q- What is your favourite tool in the kitchen?
That’s tricky! I use a few gadgets now but I suppose one of the simplest things that I couldn’t do without and use so often is my truffle dipping fork! I do love a hairdryer too – it’s essential in keeping the chocolate at the right working temperature over a prolonged period of time!
Q- How has Noble and Stace been accepted by consumers and other businesses?
I think we’ve been warmly welcomed by consumers and local businesses. From the beginning I always wanted to work closely with fellow local producers, using their products as a key ingredient to make something that customers can’t find on the High Street. That way people can enjoy a totally different chocolate experience and for fellow businesses who sell my products, it gives them something different to show to their customer.
Here’s a great example of where we have worked really closely with 2 other local producers. I supply cocoa nibs to Arundel Brewery, they also take coffee from Edgcumbes (who I also work with!), they brew a new stout with these ingredients and then I take the stout and make a chocolate with it!
Q- Where would you like to see Noble and Stace in 5 years’ time?
I always find that the hardest question to answer! It’s really hard to know. I’d like to think I will be increasing my product range, maybe diversifying a little, so that probably means I will need more space, which could mean a shop! Watch this space I guess!
Q- What has been one of your proudest moments to date since establishing Noble and Stace?
I think being in the final 3 of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards in 2017 – I was up against some much bigger and more established businesses and although it would have been amazing to have won it was a massive achievement to make it that far.
Q- For novices wanting to try their hand at chocolate making, what should they attempt to make first?
A fresh cream dark truffle is probably one of the easiest things to make and you don’t even need to temper chocolate if you don’t want too – the truffles can be rolled and coated in cocoa powder. I actually run some small workshops now if anyone would like to learn how to do that, and we also temper chocolate and make some bars! Details of dates and what we do on the course are on my website!
Q- Are there any upcoming events where we can expect to see Noble and Stace?
I tend to retreat into the Chocolate Kitchen over the summer months as warm weather and chocolate don’t always go well together! But I’ll be back doing local Farmers Markets in Petworth and Chichester plus other foodie related events from September onwards, in fact I have 2 Christmas markets booked already! I usually post what events I’m going to on my social media pages, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so if people want to find out where to find me then that’s a great place to look!
For those whose stomachs are now rumbling and are wanting to sample some of the delicious creations made by Mike Noble, visit his website for more information.
Perhaps you are wanting to try your hand at chocolate making in the comfort of your own kitchen? At Dexam we have a simple and easy chocolate tempering recipe for you to follow. To get your hands dirty and get tempering at home, see how here.