Who has time to read food labels? One of the reasons I became a vegetarian is because I got tired and disgusted of reading labels with things I couldn’t even pronounce. Seriously, what the hell is formaldehyde and why would it be okay for me to consume it if it can be used to embalm people? If you have to eat food that comes in a wrapper or packaged; the less ingredients, the better. Just remember, if you can’t read it, don’t eat it.
Ingredients do matter. Plant-based, seasonal and local ingredient meals do a body and the community good. Food With Thought highlights food artisans and specialty food creators who are committed to producing authentic exceptional food that is good for you and produced with the community and environment in mind.
Stacy Nolan launched Stacy’s Sweet Spot in 2010 as a dream that has come to fruition due to the love, hard work, sacrifice, encouragement, and patience of many. Her desire is to teach and inspire others about fine chocolate with funky flavors, specialty peanut brittle and unique pastries…all with a wild, whimsical touch.
Tell me a little bit about life before you Stacy’s Sweet Spot?
Actually life before you Stacy’s Sweet Spot was based in construction management. I used to build very big apartment complexes and hotels for a living will.
Were you making chocolate at all as a hobby or a pastime before?
It was always a hobby. I had been baking since I was about seven years old. I started playing with lesser brands of chocolate and you know the usual junkie stuff. Once I went to school and really learned about chocolate and its origin and how to work with it I became, I don’t want to say a chocolate snob but I became chocolate informed. Good chocolate versus bad chocolate and all of the yucky ingredients that people can put in things. I sort of became like a militant but I don’t want to say “militant” because I’m not a militant kind of person. But I am very in tune with what I work with. And I am very picky.
So you maintain a clean supply-chain?
Extremely. It’s very important to me. I have a relationship with my farmers. Whether it be fruit, nuts or vegetable, we have a personal relationship. I actually go and see how everything is made or grown on their end, before I will put it in what my finished product will be.
Let’s get to the chocolate. Tell me about some of your most popular products, what they are and why you think they are so popular.
Right now, brittle is huge. I do a lot of brittle and I use a lot of different local nuts and fruits. Some are different chocolate some are not. I use chocolate nibs or cocoa nibs that are organic and actually roasted for me in Texas by a friend of mine. Brittle is very popular. As far as chocolates go, Espresso is very popular. Anything with nuts and fruits and that’s what sort of sets us apart because we actually use real fruit in our truffles. If it says it’s a strawberry lemon truffle, you’re going to have real strawberry and real lemon. It is going to be organic. My espresso roaster is local and all of his stuff is organic. And that’s extremely popular.
What did you would find most challenging about starting your confection business?
The most challenging part is actually having people understand what I do and the extent that it takes to get there. Some people think that you know you can go into a grocery store and buy a bar of chocolate and it that’s the end result, that it should be that easy for me. They don’t realize it takes hours and days to create one truffle. There are many steps; that and the quality of ingredients. They don’t understand why my product would cost more than another chocolatier that is across the street selling something similar but with lesser quality ingredients. We have a really strong following of people that care about what they put into their body. It’s a very long educational process but it’s worth it.
If somebody is new to your chocolate what one product, what one chocolate or one brittle would you suggest that they try first?
Let’s see, that’s a good one. I would say if you like spicy then the original that started all of the fun stuff is a badass beer brittle which is extra high. Named by my father and so it stuck and I try not to offend people, but you know when your dad names something you sort of roll with it. As far as truffles, it depends on the season because I do so many different seasonal things. We have a pumpkin again with milk chocolate and ginger and crushed ginger snaps. In the summer, we have our Virginia Bluegrass which has local blueberry and lemongrass infused into a white chocolate.
What’s a memorable moment for you in the kitchen while you’re producing your product? Do you have any “aha” moments or a moment that you are particularly proud of? Or something funny?
For me, chocolate is very calming so when I am in the kitchen I never really realized it. My personality calms down. It’s like a natural high where I just get into a Zen mode and I didn’t realize it. My husband pointed it out one day. He came home and I was dipping truffles and I was you know…I had my headphones on and all the machines going and I was listening to music and dancing and dipping chocolate.
It’s amazing. I guess I love it. It’s fun to share with people when they bite into something and their mind is just blown. And then they try to do a lot of wine pairing and some beer pairing then and whiskey pairing with the chocolate.
How can people get that you may try your product, order your product, see your product, how can they connect with you?
We have a website that you can do pretty much everything through, www.stacyssweetspot.com. We’re picking up accounts across the country and will be updating our website soon with all the different locations where our products will be available. So, hopefully it’ll be national very soon.
If you or someone you know is a vegetarian food artisan or specialty food creator and want to share your story on how and why you source locally and responsibly produce your products email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out how you can be a guest on Food With Thought.