October 1, 2009
One of my greatest joys is to meet people who are wholeheartedly embarking on their Professional Destiny—and Noi Wegiel is clearly one of them! Noi is the creator of exquisitely hand-crafted, Austin-made natural chocolate treats & delights. Each and every piece of her decadent chocolate is truly a work-of-art, with a pairing of flavors that is unforgettably delightful. She uses the finest ingredients mother nature has to offer and many of her products are organic, raw, sugar-free and gluten-free (although for the hard-core sugar enthusiasts, some are still sinful!). In addition, she holds a commitment to using ingredients from sustainable suppliers, and supports organic and natural living. Truly this is a case where you need to taste to fully experience her chocolate magic, but it’s fascinating and inspiring to hear Noi’s Professional Destiny story until that wonderful moment:
“I’m from Thailand, and I moved to the United States when I was 17. When I arrived here, I didn’t know how to cook at all. Because I didn’t speak English very well, the only job I could get was in the kitchen at a cafeteria-type restaurant. They put me in the pastry department and I learned—on the job—how to bake. Soon, I got interested in cakes. Every time I made a cake in the restaurant, I thought to myself, ‘this could be prettier.’ To learn more, I bought a book on sale about cake decorating. I was fascinated by learning the technique, but the book was from England and they used fondant (sugar paste) to cover the cake to make it smooth and beautiful. I couldn’t immediately find anyone here to teach me how to use fondant (I learn best by watching), but after a few years, I found someone to teach me how to professionally cover the cake and make the gorgeous, life-like flowers. After that, things seemed to take off. I believe that once the student’s ready, the teachers show up. I was so hungry (no pun intended) to learn more! I started finding tons of teachers who taught me how to decorate cakes, and within three years I became the teacher.
A number of years ago I had another turning point. I needed surgery and had to stay in bed for six weeks. Because I was bedridden, I couldn’t do anything but watch TV and read books. I read a book that changed my life—it was called “Sugar Blues.” It talked about how sugar affects people and is the cause of several medical problems. It was then that I started looking for classes to teach the healthy version of making beautiful desserts—and I become the student once again.
I studied conscious eating and built an awareness of using quality ingredients in the foods I prepare. I started checking labels and using organic and local sustainable ingredients whenever possible. The struggle I faced was that I had perfected the art of making pastries with traditional ingredients such as eggs, butter, milk, sugar, etc., but I still needed some work on how to make the new, healthy way taste even better. Not to mention that my friends and family thought it was weird to make desserts this way and didn’t really understand my quest!
I overcame the taste challenge by experimenting. I don’t tend to follow rules and this gives me creative power. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When it works, I duplicate it. I record all of my successes and they become my recipes. Now all my chocolates are made with organic ingredients and most have delicious natural sweeteners such as agave and maple syrup.
My passion started with baking and pastry, then it changed to cake decorating, then food carvings and then chocolate. I’ve always believed that God wanted us to do whatever our passion is. We all have a unique ability and now my passion is chocolate and raw food. I love to eat good chocolate. I love creating it and discovering the way ingredients combine together to make something delicious, beautiful and tasty. My joy comes from seeing people light up when they eat something I create and when they ask, “how did you do that?!” Most of all, I know it’s healthier than what they can typically buy in the stores.
Most people do meditation while sitting and quieting their mind, I do mine in the kitchen. I tune into whatever I’m doing—preparing food, making cakes and pastries, and especially chocolate!
My advice to others is that it doesn’t matter what you do, just do it. You have to believe and do it with your heart. For each person it’s different—be responsible, but do what moves you. If you think something is your passion, go with it. If it works out, that’s great; if not, make a change and try again. Do what you love and savor life’s sweet moments.”
A sampling of Noi’s “heavenly bites” will to be available at my book signing tonight at BookPeople. Come and experience the bliss for yourself.
Filed under: Professional Destiny Heroes