INTERVIEW: LIFE IS LITERALLY LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES FOR MIKE NOBLE, OWNER OF NOBLE AND STACE ARTISAN CHOCOLATE
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mike Noble of Sussex brand Noble and Stace to find out what it takes to make it in the world of chocolate.
Noble and Stace is a truly delicious and decadent brand, freshly crafted in the heart of the Southdown’s. The company was founded in 2015 by Mike Noble who originally started making the chocolate from his kitchen table. since then the business has expanded and has relocated to a purpose built workshop.
From the very beginning Noble and Stace have been pioneering local collaborations, bringing together some of Sussex’s most prestigious brands to make the most imaginative and unusual flavours. There is a range of around 25 different variations of handmade cream chocolates, truffles and tablettes. Whether it be the warming taste of Jarrolds Sloe Gin or the tropical subtlety of Tomcat Mango Gin, not to mention Ridgeview sparkling wine, all of their chocolates are incredibly unique and beautifully made. I found the flavours to be remarkable, especially the Ginger & Turmeric.
If its luxury you want, it is luxury you will get with this brand, in fact the attention to detail is astonishing right down to the striking packaging.
1.) What three words best describe Noble and Stace Chocolate?
Stylish, determination and luxury.
2.) What gives Noble and Stace the edge over other Chocolate brands?
Our chocolate is handcrafted and I try to make smaller batches to ensure freshness. I also go the extra mile by hand delivering our chocolates to our distributors, I feel that this is an important part of the business as it’s a great way to get feedback. Our ethos is to collaborate with locally sourced products which will only continue to enhance our brand.
3.) Is there a memorable moment when you thought this is it, it is really happening?
Chocolate is such a temperamental product, it can go wrong, in fact has gone wrong. But when we finally got the right mixture, things just clicked and so we started to sell the finished product. In terms of the brand it is always nice when people come up to you at an event to tell you they love the flavours or that they think the packaging works well. Obviously, I love the chocolate, so for me it is nice to get that positive feedback.
4.) What is your vision for Noble and Stace?
I am really happy with the way things are going, however I would be lying if I didn’t say that a Chocolate shop would be part of my vision. I one day see myself making fresh chocolates and carrying them through to the front of the shop. But that is some way off yet.
We have our new Truffle workshops which are a collaboration with Edgcumbes Coffee Roasters in Ford. There are a number of these exciting half day classes throughout the summer and they will give people the opportunity to try their hands at being a chocolatier. The classes will be limited to six people so that the attendees get the full benefit of our time.
We have also branched out into the wedding market by offering bespoke wedding favours designed by the bride and groom. This has proved popular throughout Sussex plus we will also continue to build the website and spread the reach as much as possible.
5.) Who inspires you?
I am not someone who is obsessed with the industry. I am just doing something I love, and I am happy collaborating with other like minded people.
6.) What challenges have you faced?
I think the biggest challenge has been responsibility. When you have your own business, there is no one to tell you what to do or when to do it. You must try your hand at everything, from branding to sales to customer service, it is all down to you. People buy you as the brand, so everything must be perfect.
7.) What is the most unusual chocolate flavour that you have ever tasted?
It was a layered beetroot jelly and date chocolate, I know it sounds disgusting, but it was actually a delicious combination.
8.) What advice would you offer anyone wanting to branch out into the world of chocolate?
I would say be patient, it takes time, you need to be willing to put a lot of effort in for very little return at first. Do not rush as it is no good putting out a product that you are not happy with. Also, attention to detail is paramount as is a sense of humour as things do go wrong.
9.) What qualifications do you need to become a master chocolatier?
I would say you need to have passion, you need to be prepared and finally lots of practice. I took a two-day training course before starting the brand which laid the foundations and I have been learning ever since.
10.) What do you like to do to relax in your spare time?
I love gardening and exploring Sussex whether it be walking or through food.
To find out more about Noble and Stace artisan chocolate, where you can buy it or more information on the exciting chocolate workshops, head over to the website:
Noble & Stace
Hollist Lane, Easebourne, Midhurst, GU29 9AD