MIKE Noble has taken the phrase ‘pottering about in the garage’ to a new level.
He has opened his very own chocolate factory in his Easebourne garage and far from ‘pottering about’, Noble and Stace chocolatiers are going from strength to strength.
To chocoholics generally it would be their idea of heaven, earning a living up close and personal with those irresistible smells and tastes.
But, although Mike admits he loves what he does and loves chocolate – he is pretty strict about sampling the goods.
“The mathematical side of me takes over and says if you eat a truffle there are only 47 left in the batch and one missing from a box. So I don’t eat chocolate at work.”
Mike left behind a career in business development some years ago to run a B&B in Kent with his partner Mike Stace.
And it was his partner who sowed the chocolate seed in Mike’s mind.
“He did a pastry chef course which involved working with chocolate and it was very interesting.“We wanted a change so we moved to Easebourne and converted the garage and I went to the Chocolate Academy in Banbury and did the course.”
Mike then spent five months practising and trying out his chocolate on friends.
“The feedback was very encouraging and people thought I should go into business, so six months ago I started selling it.”
He makes small batches of hand-crafted, highly-decorated fresh cream truffles, chocolates and tablettes, all with different fillings.
They range from salted caramel to coffee and cream and orange confit.
It’s all a work in progress and Mike is perfecting more chocolate treats with a local twist.
They include an ale variety working alongside Langham Brewery at Lodsworth and at the other end of the scale, he has also joined forces with Southdowns Water to make a dairy-free mineral water truffle.
“There is more to come and at the moment I am working on Sussex sparkling wine truffles,” said Mike.
“In a few weeks my chocolate is going to West Dean Gardens and maybe I will have something else new in time for the Chilli Fiesta next year.
At present Mike is selling via the Cowdray Farm Shop, the Coco Cafe at Petworth, to the Spread Eagle Hotel, Cockburn’s sweet shop, The Crafty Pint in Midhurst and The Exceptional English Wine Company at Cowdray Park.
He is attending events such as the Haslemere Food Festival, farmers’ markets and the South Downs Food Portal launch of British Food fortnight which took place at Rathfinny Wine Estate in Alfriston recently.
He is already branching out with commissions for corporate events, including a prestigious order for the Grosvenor Hotel in London as well as weddings and other celebrations.
“The chocolate can be tailored to people’s individual requirements,” said Mike. “In that way it really is bespoke chocolate.
“I am optimistic about business. Feedback is great and generally people really seem to enjoy my chocolate.
“It’s all coming together because people love the fact that it’s so local.”
Have a look at some of Mike’s mouth watering chocolate combinations on his website www.nobleandstace.co.uk
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