Katrina Merrem (BCom 1996) was on vacation in Switzerland when she realized that she didn’t want to go back to her old life as an accountant.
And so, in the fall of 2003, she and husband Noah Houghton, who also worked in the financial sector, packed up their life in Toronto and set off in their car for the American Southwest. They settled in a suburb north of Dallas and founded Noka Chocolate, a luxury chocolate and truffles business. “I’m from a foodie family, and Noah is from an entrepreneurial family,” says Merrem, 35. “And we just kept coming back to chocolate. It’s something we both really enjoy.”
Noka’s handcrafted delicacies are not for the faint of pocketbook. The company’s set of two Grand Cru single-estate dark chocolate truffles (sold in a stainless steel box) fetch $45 US, which prompted the New York Times to note that, ounce for ounce, they cost more than caviar. “It’s different than buying a chocolate bar,” explains Merrem. “We’re talking about the top five per cent of beans in the world.”
In their bid to “share the Noka Chocolate vision,” the couple recently opened stores in Tokyo and Dallas. For Merrem, accounting seems like a distant memory. “It’s incredible being a part of something that makes so many people happy,” she says.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre