From Leicester to Bodø
Hello Craig, can you tell us more about your background?
During 17 years in the restaurant industry, I have been very fortunate to have worked with some great Chefs. My career started at a fine dining restaurant in my hometown Leicester, England. This in a way set my mind to a more elegant approach to food. After completing my chef apprenticeship, I worked in Val d’Isère, France. After returning to England, I decided to travel around South East Asia. On the trip, I met my fiancee, who quickly persuaded me to move to Norway. The decision to move was absolutely the right one. My first job was with two amazing French pastry Chefs who really opened my eyes to the advanced world of pâtisserie. I knew at that point that my heart was in the pâtisserie industry. Which brought me to applying to ENSP.
Which program did you attend at ENSP?
I attended the French Pastry Campus program.
Why did you choose to study at ENSP?
I researched potential schools in France because I wanted to learn the right way. The French way. I felt ENSP was a school which I could learn a lot about the industry and enroll in intern programs during my time there. This way I could learn as much as possible in a short time. Plus the connection to Alain Ducasse and Yves Thuriès speaks volumes of the level required.
Can you tell us more about your experience there?
I can honestly say it was one of the best times of my life. The Chefs/teachers, the school, the setting, the surrounding villages, fellow students. All of this contributed to an incredible experience. Plus I gained the essential tools needed to advance my own career.
You are now settled in Bodø. How Norwergians welcomed your pastry shop?
Bodø is one of the fastest growing cities in Norway, and the people here welcome the change with open arms. I planned my opening during this growth period because I wanted to contribute to bringing something new. I consider my company and my products to be amongst the best in the country, and to have that level of quality in the small town of Bodø makes the locals feel as equally proud as me.
How would you describe your identity?
My goal has always been to provide the highest quality products in every detail. Ingredients, packaging, appearance, presentation, design etc. My product is elegant and exclusive, but I like to add a playful twist to most things. Where the packaging is edgy and black, the product is very colourful and boasts fantastic flavours. So to sum up. Playful elegance.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I think my previous experience as a Chef has helped me to think of flavours from all over the world, and use combinations not always used in desserts/chocolate. A lot of my inspiration comes from the Norwegian people and the surrounding nature.
What are your best-sellers?
As much as it is considered “normal” the salt caramel bonbon is a definite favourite with the locals. I use Valrhona Manjari 64% for the shell, and make a soft milk chocolate caramel ganache for the filling with sea salt from the local waters of Saltstraumen.
What are the creations that represent you the most?
Creations which represent me, I guess is a long list. But my favorite creations so far are:
- Oak smoked dark chocolate
- Aerated Bacon (I caramelise the bacon in beurre noisette, and use the fat in a milk chocolate with a little salt and aerate with nitrus oxide)
- Sea buckthorn
- Sichuan Pepper
What are your future projects?
In April this year, I will open a macaron bar in Bodø. We will specialise this venue on macarons, chocolate milk, hot chocolate drinks and ice cream. I will also launch my online store this year.
Many thanks to Craig Alibone for answering our questions. We wish him a good continuation!
If you want to discover Craig’s creations, visit his website or his pastry-shop: Storgata 3, 8006 Sentrumsgården, Bodø, Norway