“These are the highest-quality chocolates you can get in San Diego,” said Katz, whose specialty at the Marine Room leaned toward the savory. “I think with my background, combined with chocolate, comes together in a real special way.”
The Los Angeles native has lived in New York City, Northampton, Mass., and has a degree in engineering from Smith College. Katz, who is “from a big culinary family,” was largely self-taught prior to attending culinary school.
“Having grown up in LA, I’ve always been into cooking,” she said. “There’s just such a wide diversity of flavor profiles, and great specialty markets. I can still remember the first rabbit I ever cooked – when I bought it, there was still fur on it.”
Katz met her husband, Dan, while working at the Marine Room. As often happens in a restaurant, Dan was working the front-of-the-house, while Katz was in the back. The two now have a child, who is the namesake of their burgeoning business. Being a culinary family, they have a particular affinity for New Orleans (hence, Nola).
Nola did much more for the business than provide the namesake, however. Katz’s pregnancy was the main impetus to start the business from scratch.
“I was very pregnant and had a crazy craving for chocolate,” she said. “I didn’t just want to eat some junk, so I started to experiment with a few flavors. My friends and family tried them, and kept pushing me to form what is now Nola Rose.”
Katz adds that two of her main staples are truffles and bonbons because “There’s so much you can do with them. They’re both based on this ganache-y cream, butter, and high-quality chocolate.”
The Point Loma resident has been working out of a commercial kitchen in El Cajon, but will be sharing space with Bibi Kasrai at her Harvard Cookin' Girl location on Girard Avenue. On Jan. 1, she will be taking on events and parties, eventually adding a cooking curriculum to that space.
“This is doing well and is my passion – building a solid customer base of people who like these chocolates,” said Katz. “I will be at the Marine Room, albeit less time than in the past. Bernard (Guillas) has been a great mentor.”
Despite having a small staff of predominantly independent contractors, Katz can produce a few thousand chocolates a day, without including packaging.
She is now looking forward to her new headquarters, for she believes it to be the only location in La Jolla to purchase artisan chocolates.
Nola Rose Chocolate will be hosting a pop-up sale on Dec. 17 at their new location, 7441 Girard Ave. They are now offering a “holiday box” of 8 pieces of chocolate for $20.