Chocolate started out as a food for the elite among the Maya and Aztecs, and later European aristocrats, but officially stopped being a luxury item in 1894 when Hershey’s began mass producing it. Until 2006, most considered $4 for a chocolate bar to be robbery because they were used to buying it at the drug store. That year brought the advent of craft chocolate. Made with sourced cacao beans in small batches and with upscale packaging, chocolate started to get its mojo back. New Orleans native and musician Christopher Nobles did both front and back of the house stints in restaurants. Drawn to the intersection of food and science, but ultimately determined he did not want to work in a restaurant kitchen, he started making chocolate. He travelled to Nicaragua to learn about the cacao fermentation process then studied the making of both chocolate and gelato at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners. He opened Piety and Desire Chocolate in a tiny space on a hip stretch of Broad Street near Toledano in 2017. There was a retail counter up front and a tiny “factory” behind the counter.
“I wanted a name that spoke of New Orleans but did not involve the fleur de lis,” Nobles said. “Chocolate was a food of the gods, but it was also a form of currency.” He sources organic, fair trade cacao beans directly from farmers and producers in Central and South America, Africa and Asia.
“We go from bean to bar to bon bon and beyond,” said Nobles. The entire process happens in the space on Broad with Nobles and two employees taking the cocoa beans from raw product to a works of art. He recently moved the retail portion of the operation to Magazine Street where he operates a chocolate café serving specialty coffee drinks, ice cream, and, of course, chocolate. In addition to a bar with counter seating, the new Piety and Desire Chocolate Café has grouped conversational areas outfitted with Hollywood Regency furnishings that invite guests to linger and indulge.
Christopher Nobles, Founder and Chocolatier, Piety and Desire Chocolate, pietyanddesirechocolate.com
What to Drink with Chocolate
“The ideal pairing is Buffalo Trace bourbon with one of our Brown Butter Bourbon bon bons. It’s an amazing combination.”
All bars and bon bons are small batch, handcrafted and made with raw Louisiana cane sugar. The bon bons, each hand-painted, glitter under soft lights in a temperature-controlled glass case and are sold a la carte. The flavors are locally and seasonally inspired and grouped into collections: Classic, Contemporary, Winter, Fall, Summer, Carnival, and Festival. Where New Orleans-made chocolate was once limited to waxy hollow chocolate bunnies, Piety and Desire has brought us world-class products that could easily compete on a world stage before the most discerning critics.