Swapping Leicester for Bodø, Norway, Craig Alibone creates mouth-watering and unusual chocolates – constantly experimenting with flavours and textures
Article by Justine Gosling
Saltstraumen is a small strait with one of the strongest tidal currents in the world. It is located in the municipality of Bodø in arctic Norway. Up to 400,000,000 cubic metres of sea water forces its way through a three kilometre long and 150-metre wide strait every six hours. Vortices known as whirlpools or maelstroms up to 10 metres in diameter and five metres in depth are formed when the current is at its strongest. Saltstraumen has existed for about two to three thousand years.
Craig Alibone, originally from Leicester, now resides in Bodø and takes inspirations from his unique surroundings into his patisserie. The rows of shiny, perfectly spherical and colourful chocolate Borbons are what captured my attention in his shop window. The bonbon are individually handmade and hand painted using cocoa butter. The appearance of each chocolate tells the eyes what your mouth might taste. The Saltstraumen salt caramel Bourbon even uses salt from the local waters and is painted in a swirl design to represent the busy swirling waters of Saltstraumen.
He told me that after working as a chef for around six years, he felt he needed something more artistic and creative – deciding to train pastry chef / chocolatier. To his surprise he was selected as one of only 33 students across the world to attend patisserie school “Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Patisserie” a world renowned school formed by Alain Ducasse and Yves Thuries. Here Craig was taught by some of the world’s best pastry chefs, Jean Marc Guillot, Sebastien Serveau and Bruno Moncudiol.
“What I learnt at this school gave me the ability to go on and create my identity as a pastry chef,” he comments. “Chocolate and patisserie is a beautiful endless game of options, ideas, textures, flavours and emotions. That is why I love what I do. I can help people experience and feel though the wonders of chocolate. I would say my inspiration comes mainly from people and the environment around me. I like to stay true to techniques I have developed, whilst introducing flavours people wouldn’t usually think about. Such as “sea buckthorn and Szechwan pepper” or ‘Norwegian brown goats cheese caramel.’”
Craig sources all his ingredients locally. Cream, milk, eggs, and butter all come from local farmers. When it is possible fruits and berries are also sourced locally. He proudly uses only the very highest quality Valrhona chocolate. The quality and attention to detail goes hand in hand with what is very important to him, quality. I can personally vouch that his chalets not only look like spheres of art, but taste utterly delicious too.