In following her father’s footsteps, a civil engineer, Nicole Patel didn’t neglect art for the sake of science. In 2006 while pregnant with her first son, Patel made a batch of handmade chocolate truffles as last-minute holiday gifts. To the delight of friends and family, she continued to create chocolate treats as a way to relieve stress from her corporate engineering job.

In 2008, a chance trip to Becker Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country led Patel to becoming the first in Texas to make truffles using local wines. Within five years, what started as a hobby turned Austin-based Delysia into one of the Top Ten Chocolatiers in the United States, as selected by the International Chocolate Salon and Taste TV.

“At Delysia Chocolatier, we see ourselves as more than just a chocolatier,” she says. “Our tagline, ‘For life’s every occasion,’ is the essence of Delysia. We create experiences.”

From the handmade truffles to the elegant chocolate invitations, Delysia offers a broad assortment of gourmet chocolate products. “We use only fine quality chocolate from sustainable sources and fresh local ingredients to create something distinctly unique,” the owner and chocolatier adds.

A recent expansion has launched a new element to the Delysia experience — a state-of-the-art Chocolate Culinary Center. More than two years in the making, the technologically advanced Delysia Chocolate Culinary Center is the first complex of its kind in Texas. The 2,000-sq.-ft. facility will serve as both the base of operations for the award-winning chocolatier and as a community gathering space that will host educational classes, chocolate pairing events, pop-up dinners and more.

If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?

I guess the expected answer is Delysia Chocolatier truffles. In all seriousness, my favorite candy isSweet Tarts.

What’s the last cool thing you saw online?

The Orion launch.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and become an engineer. He is a civil engineer and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force.

What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?

Big business trying to overrun the smaller artisan companies. Unfortunately it happens in all industries. It’s disappointing how often smaller, artisan businesses are not given the opportunity to showcase their uniqueness because of big business interference.

What’s the last book you read?

I think the last book I read was The Breakup Doctor by Phoebe Fox, a local Austin author. For her book launch, we created chocolates inspired by the book, complete with broken heart designs and spicy flavors.

If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?

Gail Simmons from Food & Wine.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My husband encouraging me to start my own business while driving me home after being laid off from my engineering job. As if the emotional turmoil of losing a job wasn’t enough — I was five months pregnant. My husband told me, “You will be fine. Tomorrow, wake up and grow your business.”