Hand­crafted in Kingsville

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - SARAH SACHELI ssacheli@post­

In a town known for bird­ing, new avian spec­i­mens have landed. Even bet­ter, they are made of choco­late.

Hand­crafted choco­late birds are one of the spe­cial­ties of Old Dutch Guys Choco­late, a new shop on Kingsville’s eclec­tic Main Street. The pro­pri­etors are Cor Boon, 75, who hails from Gronin­gen, Hol­land, and Henry Noes­the­den, 68, born in Am­s­ter­dam.

“We’re two old Dutch guys,” Noes­the­den said.

Boon is a cham­pion wood carver. His carv­ings are the in­spi­ra­tion for the choco­late cre­ations sold in the shop. Noes­the­den is a sculp­tor with a tech­ni­cal bent. Their col­lab­o­ra­tion re­sulted in brisk busi­ness in their first week at Kingsville’s bustling four cor­ners.

“They’re knock­ing it out of the park,” en­thused land­lord Frank Mer­li­han, who runs Merlis Cof­fee House and Eatery next door. Mer­li­han asked his new ten­ants to make some choco­lates he could in­clude with dessert for a spe­cial din­ner he puts on for se­lect cus­tomers. They came up with a col­lec­tion of choco­lates shaped like bee­tles, the dark choco­late ones gleam­ing with hints of gold and sil­ver lus­tre. “Ev­ery­one loved them,” Mer­li­han said.

This week, Boon was cre­at­ing a gi­ant, multi-coloured choco­late flower to be used as a cen­tre­piece dur­ing din­ner, then devoured as dessert.

Boon tells the story of how he and Noes­the­den met six years ago at a din­ner party where Noes­the­den was the chef and Boon was a guest. Noes­the­den let Boon’s beloved stan­dard poo­dle, Whis­per, slurp from his glass of wine and a fast friend­ship en­sued.

They de­cided to go into busi­ness to­gether and chose Kingsville for its trendy vibe. “It’s a col­lec­tion of in­ter­est­ing peo­ple and shops,” Noes­the­den said.

Boon ran a bed and break­fast in New­found­land and Labrador af­ter a ca­reer sell­ing high-speed, com­put­er­ized pack­ag­ing equip­ment. Among other en­deav­ours, he wrote a col­lec­tion of chil­dren’s books.

Noes­the­den lived in New York and Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, among other places, work­ing as a de­signer. One of his projects be­fore land­ing on choco­late was de­sign­ing a line of ar­tic­u­lat­ing wooden toys.

Their shop has the feel of an ul­tra-mod­ern jew­elry store, with small glass dis­play cases filled with choco­late perched atop sleek white cab­i­netry. In­ter­spersed are Boon’s carv­ings, the in­spi­ra­tion for the pieces.

They stripped the for­mer cloth­ing store to the con­crete walls and re­built the in­te­rior them­selves. The show­room they sep­a­rated from the kitchen area with a wall of win­dows so cus­tomers can watch the next batch of cre­ations take shape.

Noes­the­den said the jew­elry store look was in­ten­tional. “We wanted to dis­play the choco­late as a high-end gift item. It’s a spe­cialty gift.”

Most items are $20, in­clud­ing a line of choco­late ini­tials. Noes­the­den said the let­ters are borne out of the Dutch tra­di­tion of top­ping a pile of Christ­mas gifts with an ini­tial made of choco­late to in­di­cate the re­cip­i­ent. “It started out as a piece of pas­try,” Noes­the­den ex­plains of the tra­di­tion.

A Dutch theme runs through the en­ter­prise. The ex­te­rior walls are painted orange and their logo is Boon and Noes­the­den’s faces in pro­file, ac­cented to give them the look of old Dutch mas­ters.

The pair’s artistry is matched with their en­gi­neer­ing savvy. Boon carves the de­signs — birds, dogs, bee­tles, hearts, fruits, a light­house and more — then Noes­the­den fab­ri­cates moulds of them us­ing food­grade plas­tic and sil­i­cone.

Boon de­signed the two mes­mer­iz­ing ma­chines that move at three rev­o­lu­tions per minute in a pat­tern mim­ick­ing a planet or­bit­ing its sun. The slow move­ment al­lows the choco­late to flow evenly through­out the moulds, get­ting into ev­ery nook and cranny. The pre­cise tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity al­lows the choco­late to free it­self from the sil­i­cone mould once dry, in about 20 min­utes.

Noes­the­den sourced the parts for the ma­chines, tweaked the de­sign and built them. The re­sult are choco­late cre­ations with de­tail so in­tri­cate, it looks like each one was carved from a block by hand.

The choco­late they use is im­ported from Bel­gium from a com­pany that prides it­self on its fair­trade prac­tices, Boon said.

In their first week of busi­ness, Noes­the­den and Boon were al­ready talk­ing about what comes next. Noes­the­den said he’d like to cre­ate a tomato truf­fle and a line of bon­bons. “A Kingsville can­noli,” Boon chimed in.

Their choco­late shop isn’t so much a re­tire­ment project as it is a way to re­ju­ve­nate them­selves, Boon said. “I’ve never had so much plea­sure and fun.”


Co-own­ers Cor Boon, left, and Henry Noes­the­den of Old Dutch Guys Choco­late, dis­play some of their sweet hand­crafted treats at their new shop in down­town Kingsville.

Cor Boon, co-owner of Old Dutch Guys Choco­late in Kingsville, brushes a gold hue onto a choco­late medal­lion com­mem­o­rat­ing Canada’s 150th birth­day.

Hand­crafted choco­late birds are one of the spe­cial­ties of Old Dutch Guys Choco­late, a new shop on Main Street in Kingsville.

A side­walk view of Old Dutch Guys Choco­late in down­town Kingsville.

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