Interview with Creative Topix Magazine
CT Mag We hear there’s a couple of versions to the story of how Noci Bella was created. Can you tell us why and what the true story is?
A.H. It’s not that there’s two stories, it’s just that one is a little more elaborate than the other.The single true story is that I was out dancing one night, came home late, very hungry and had limited edible resources in the house. I did have some walnuts and honey so I started playing around.
CT Mag And from that experience alone you started Noci Foods?
A.H. Not quite. I thought it tasted pretty good at the time but when you’ve been out late and come home that hungry, most things taste pretty good. The next day I gave some to my mother and a few other people. They all offered enough encouragement and support to get me to move on it.
CT Mag Have you ever created any other food products?
A.H. Not really before Noci Bella. I’m working on some now but before Noci Bella I played around with food a little but never took it seriously or thought about selling it.
CT Mag On your website you talk a little about the experience of being raised in Walnut Creek. How much of an influence was that upbringing in developing Noci Bella?
A.H. Probably not much. There were walnut orchards in Walnut Creek back then and we did harvest walnuts as kids but the truth is I think we threw more of them at each other than we ever actually ate. Walnuts are bigger and heavier with the green husk on and they hurt when you get hit by one.
CT Mag It’s starting to sound more and more as though creating Noci Bella was pretty much just a stroke of luck.
A.H. That’s what I’ve been saying from the beginning. More than just luck, a blessing.
CT Mag Why do you think you were so lucky?
A.H. I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of good luck in life
CT Mag Food editors, wine connoisseurs and countless foodies have raved about Noci Bella. What group do you feel are your biggest fans?
A.H. Probably the Yoga Moms in Marin county and I had great response from all the surfers and gluten free people in southern California
CT Mag How are you finding the transition from being a building contractor to a food innovator?
A.H. Actually there’s a lot of similarities. Basically you’re putting stuff together.
CT Mag Do you feel your construction background facilitated the creation of Noci Bella?
A.H I think it might have. I tell people making Noci Bella is a lot like making asphalt.
CT Mag In what ways?
A.H You need proper gradation of materials and the right amount of heat.
CT Mag Anything you don’t like about being in the food business?
A.H I’m not crazy about spending so much time indoors and the activity is not as vigorous as construction.
CT Mag Did you ever think you would get this kind of recognition for anything in life?
A.H Maybe but not for this kind of thing.
CT Mag What type of thing do you think you might have?
A.H Maybe building something.
CT Mag Well isn’t that what you’ve done with Noci Bella? You said it was like making asphalt.
A.H Yeah. I guess you’re right. I like hearing that.
CT Mag What other endeavors of yours do you think are potentially worthy of recognition?
A.H Being a superb father and maybe my dancing.
CT Mag Dancing? Really? You’re that good? Have you ever thought of trying out for dancing with the stars?
A.H Ha Ha Ha , No, not my style. I dance with the stars all the time but they’re the ones up in the sky.
CT Mag So you dance outdoors at night?
A.H All the time.
CT Mag What do the neighbors think?
A.H I never asked.
CT Mag What is your dance style?
A.H I’m a free dancer. I dance for the love of movement.
CT Mag Anything about your dance style or movements that are noteworthy?
A.H Only that they’re an expression of my personal style and that they are uniquely me.
CT MagM Do you feel Noci Bella is an expression of your personal style?
A.H It is
CT Mag Well than it sounds like you might be a good dancer. How do you think your dancing is perceived by others? Do you care?
A.H Sure I care. I would hope it wouldn’t be difficult to watch. But I’ve had people put off by my dancing just as I’ve been put off by others. I would say the overwhelming reaction to my dancing has been fine. And I’ve had a lot of great experiences.
CT Mag Can you give us an example?
A.H Well a quick and easy one is a few years ago, a friend and I were having dinner at a middle eastern restaurant. There was a belly dancer going from table to table trying to get people to get up and dance with her. When she came to ours I got up and danced with her. She said I was pretty good and then two other separate women from the bar walked over and stuffed dollar bills down my shirt. That was a fun experience.
CT Mag Sounds like it What’s your favorite kind of dance music or venue?
A.H I’m actually pretty selective in what I can dance to but I can dance to some Rock, Blues or Disco but my favorite is Roots, Rocksteady and Dancehall reggae.
CT And your favorite venue?
AH The Dancehall. I generally think music and dance are best enjoyed outdoors but the dancehall captures a magic and energy that can be amazing.
CT Any memorable or high occasions in the dancehall worth mentioning?
AH A few years ago, I was in Boonville at the World music festival. It was late, the live music was over and the Dancehall was starting to go off. I saw U-Roy sitting over by himself. I went over to him and thanked him for all the joy he brought me. He was totally gracious. Later when I passed by him I told him that I even picked up some dance moves from him. He really lit up.
CT What moves did you pick up from him?
AH He has a distinctive way of flailing his arms backwards that I really like. I really love so many of these guys. We come from radically different backgrounds but we share a love of music and certain outlook that’s amazing.
CT Back to Noci Bella. What is your long term goal?
AH I really hope Noci Bella serves to be a brand in perpetuity. I didn’t fully understand it going into it but now that I’ve been immersed in the food scene and I see how far people go to contrive things and all the gimmicks I say “simple is the value”. Noci Bella should be a brand in perpetuity because it is a unique product that’s as wholesome as it gets. It’s all natural.