Published October 18, 2011
Volume 19, Number 10

Nuubia Chocolat Is a Luxury Brand with a Conscience       
Delicious Confections Winning Widespread Plaudits from Dessert, Chocolate Experts

Alexandra Saunders, left, partners with Chef Lionel Clement to
bring Nuubia Chocolat to the world.  (Photo credit: Susan Adler
Photography/Courtesy Nuubia Chocolat) 

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Of all the innovative products to be created in Hacienda, the luxury confections from the kitchen of newcomer Nuubia Chocolat have got to be among the most enjoyable. They are already highly acclaimed. At the end of August, two irresistible bonbons—one flavored with fresh squeezed lime and vanilla, the other with raspberry and jasmine pearl tea—earned co-founder Chef Lionel Clement the coveted Chocolatier of the Year award from Pastry Live. Just this month, the industry magazine Dessert Professional announced that Clement and Nuubia Chocolate will be honored in its December issue as one of the top 10 chocolatiers in the country.

Chef Clement's distinctions are complimented by the love of chocolate that has propelled partner Alexandra Saunders into realizing a long-held dream. When she was just out of graduate school, in her 20s, Saunders went shopping for a location for her first chocolate shop. “But I had a prestigious position in the commodity market analyzing the rice trade, and I got talked out of it,” she recalls.

Three decades later, the timing was finally right for a return to her passion. As she started laying plans for the company, Saunders realized she could weave in another long-cherished goal, wildlife conservation, by simultaneously building awareness of and donating 15 percent of Nuubia's profits to help wildlife in peril.

“The more I learned about the chocolate world, the more convinced I became that there was a place for a company to create exquisite chocolates while being sustainable and profitable,” Saunders relates. “We are a luxury brand with a conscience.” 

Two years of diligent preparation have culminated in Nuubia Chocolat's formal launch. The 3,300-square foot suite at 5673 W. Las Positas Boulevard easily accommodates a retail showroom, an artisan kitchen with plenty of room for hands-on classes, and offices. A private courtyard presents the perfect backdrop for the wine and chocolate pairing events Nuubia Chocolat has on tap.

Like most start-ups, Nuubia has a distinctive value proposition. “What we hope to bring to the industry is a new appreciation for the world of chocolate and what fine chocolate can taste like,” says Saunders. She acknowledges that there are “some wonderful chocolatiers in northern California already,” but Nuubia Chocolat hopes to bring its own signature to the community.

Like wine, chocolate has its own terroir, Saunders explains. “There are dozens of varieties of cacao beans. For example, one chocolate we make uses beans from centuries-old cacao trees that grow wild in the rain forest. It takes locals weeks to gather the beans in their canoes.”

To these precious ingredients, Chef Clement blends in his creativity and technical virtuosity. “One of the things a chef does is think up things that never existed before,” Saunders comments. “Lionel’s signature as a chocolatier is his ability to layer subtle nuances of flavors that hit the palate at different times. His bonbons pair very well with wine and single malt scotch. They are meant to be savored. I truly believe they are the finest in the world.” 

To find out more about Nuubia Chocolat’s products, classes, corporate gifts, and availability for special events, visit www.nuubiachocolat.com.  


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