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A Sweet Pairing

Nuubia Chocolat's owners share a love of chocolate and wildlife.


Susan Adler Photography

At first glance, Danville resident Alexandra Saunders and French master chocolatier Lionel Clement seem an odd pair. Luckily, the cofounders of Nuubia Chocolat share two fundamental passions: chocolate and wildlife.

A longtime environmental scientist, Saunders quit her job two years ago to follow her passion. A year later, she met Clement, then the head chocolate chef for Wynn Las Vegas and fresh from placing second at the prestigious World Chocolate Masters competition. An avid outdoorsman and animal lover, Clement quickly recognized a kindred spirit.

“We both love animals; we both love chocolate,” says Clement. “It’s as simple as that.”

Thus became Nuubia, their new artisanal chocolate kitchen set to open this month in Pleasanton, which will not only crank out high-end chocolates targeted to a luxury market but will donate 15 percent of profits to animal and environmental conservation efforts.

But most important for sweets lovers is Nuubia’s use of top-shelf, all-natural ingredients. They come across clearly in the chocolates, which exhibit simple but vivid flavor profiles (ganaches infused with fresh lime and vanilla, or raspberry and jasmine tea, for example) that linger lovingly on the palate.

While the two hope to distribute internationally, Nuubia will be firmly rooted in the East Bay. A retail space offers chocolates to the public, and there are plans for seasonal demos and classes, as well as kitchen tours.

“There is a real gastronomic culture here,” Clement says. “We want to surf on that wave.”

5673 W. Las Positas Blvd., Ste. 220, Pleasanton, nuubiachocolat.com.


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