Earlier this year, I was contacted by a representative of Alexander Seaton of Alexander Chocolate, a chocolatier from Salisbury. I was lucky enough to sit down (albeit virtually, as I’m living in the States) with Alex and learn a little more about him, his brand, and (my favourite part!) his vegan chocolate offerings!
Juliette: Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Alexander: I am a very proud dad of two little and wonderful boys, Jasper and Milo, my head tasters. I have been a chef for 14 years and love the job but the hours keep me from my family and that I don’t like. I love cooking though mainly as cookery is science. I love science. Chocolate is intricate science and luxury and cookery and it really excites me. I had an injury to my foot and was unable to work for a few days and I decided to further my knowledge on this wonderful product. Alexander Chocolate was born out of curiosity and fascination.
J: Why chocolate?
A: Chocolate is a beautiful thing and has so many applications. It is also intricate with thousands of varieties. The harmony of artistry and science combined with the balance of aroma and texture makes chocolate fascinating in so many ways.
J: Your brand has a uniquely ethical mission behind it. Could you tell us a bit more about that, and why it’s important to you?
A: The cocoa industry is reputed to be the biggest cause of child slavery in the world. I feel very strongly that a luxury product, like chocolate, should mean luxury to all involved and this is, sadly not the normal case. I also feel that the production of so much is done for the end result but Alexander Chocolate respects the whole process. We use as little plastic as possible and AC prides itself on continuation of refinement of our methods in all regards.
J: What inspired you to include vegan chocolate in your offerings?
A: Dark chocolate is automatically vegan if it is made with a conscientious and contamination aware system, it is just not advertised and that is not respectful. I feel very passionate about respect. Either through choice, allergy or intolerance no one should have to suffer subpar products due to diet. Alexander Chocolate makes high-end products and wants them to be available to all. We make inclusive chocolate and we respect all choices and diets. Why should anyone not have the best there is to offer vegan or otherwise?
J: Your bean-to-bar methodology has certainly brought up its share of complexities; could you share a bit about these difficulties and any additional struggles that come up in making your vegan and other special products?
A: The main difficulty in the early days was sourcing the equipment to make the product. It took 8 months of research and development to understand and procure the necessary equipment to make chocolate from scratch. It has taken longer to ensure that the ingredients are cultivated and produced in the best way possible, this is a huge ongoing focus of the business. We are currently following the trials of one of our producers in Ecuador as they begin the harvest this year.
J: You also have a few products that are allergen-free at large. Can you tell us more?
A: There are 14 recognised allergens according to the Environment for Health in this country as it stands. These include; eggs, cereals containing gluten, milk, soya, and sulphites. These need to be listed for all foods. In the catering industry, it is required that allergens in foods are recorded. As Alexander Chocolate wants to be inclusive, we strive to use as few as possible. We have replaced soya lecithin, commonly found in chocolate with a more environmentally friendly and allergen free sunflower lecithin and we have created Odelia our new vegan white chocolate.
J: Your vegan white chocolate and rose chocolate bar especially caught our eye. Could you tell us more about these and what inspired these in particular?
A: Rose is one of my personal favourite flavours and I really wanted to use it in chocolate. Commonly rose water is used in recipes and this would not work with chocolate. I hit a wall. I found, eventually, food-grade rose oil and decided to invest £40.09 in 10ml of this oil. R and D began….. Finally, the 70% cocoa rose chocolate was created, it is still my favourite AC product.
Odelia was created for vegans. I wanted to make a white chocolate that anyone could enjoy. I had to make a vegan white chocolate. It was the longest development, to date. For almost a full year Odelia was in development. The first batch was awful and not wanting waste I processed it again and again changing micro details until finally, I had a product that I am proud of. I then replicated it from scratch and Odelia was born.
J: What inspires you to create new flavours and types of chocolate?
A: Flavour is my art. I am not a musician. I am not a painter. My art is flavour. I take aroma and taste then I create flavour. My inspiration comes from nature. Herbs, flowers, nuts, beans, light and emotion. I consider all of these and how to make them sing together.
J: How has the Salisbury community responded to your company as it’s come into being and grown?
A: Salisbury is a great city. I am recognised when out and about. Recently in Pret in Salisbury I had a meeting and three people greeted me as I conversed. The community is kind, warm and encouraging. I moved back here at 26 and never looked back.
J: As Alexander Chocolate has expanded, how far has it reached? Do you have any favourite encounters in sending your chocolate abroad?
A: The furthest I know AC to have gone is Australia. A customer liked the chocolate so much they bought a consignment to take to family in Auz. AC has also been enjoyed in Johannesburg South Africa, Kentucky US, Belgium and I may have the pleasure of sending 300 bars to Catalonia Spain, we are planning at the moment. My favourite, though, is sending the first bar of each type of new chocolate to my mum, I have to send two bars as she won’t eat the first one for sentimental reasons!
J: What is your personal favourite chocolate, to eat and to make?
A: My favourite bonbon, to eat, is the banoffee, it is stunning. My favourite bonbon to make is my rosemary and honey as I get to use the honey a very dear friend nurtures her bees to make, she takes so little from them and gives so much. It is a real treat to enjoy such a beautiful and respectful product. It is also the hardest ganache that we make and it has to be scientifically perfect or it will go wrong. I make it myself, every time, to ensure there is as little room for error, therefore waste, as possible.
J: Which type of chocolate do you find yourself recommending most often? If a stranger stopped you to ask for your recommendation, without context, which would you suggest?
A: Our 57% sweet dark chocolate is the one! It is an allergen-free, non-bitter chocolate and was created to fill the gap between milk chocolate and bitter dark chocolate. It was the first of our vegan range. Designed to be a beautiful chocolate that anyone would enjoy. It has been a great success. With no info, it is the go-to offering.
J: Where can our readers reach you to learn more?
A: has more information and following us on social media will keep you up to date. Anything specific anyone would like to know or for bespoke and personalised requests please email or call us on 01722 237 603.
J: How can someone reading this get some of your chocolate for themselves?
A: is the best bet. If you want a dining experience go to the Burley Manor Hotel in the new forest, they use AC throughout the hotel and kitchen and you will see AC on the menu. We are stocked in a few shops in our local area too. Goodfayre, a vegan and ethical shop in Salisbury, stocks our products as does the Cake forge, .
Thank you so much to Alex of Alexander Chocolate for joining us! I can’t wait to try some Alexander Chocolate for myself the next time I’m back in the UK—friends who are there already, be sure to stop by and tell us your thoughts—and tell Alex & co. we say hello!