By Grace Beck, student writer
After traveling across 16 countries in eight years studying chocolate, Broad College of Business alumna Alex Clark (BA Hospitality Business ’10) opened Detroit’s first artisan chocolate shop in 40 years – officially pinning the city on the global “foodie” map. Following classic French techniques and using locally sourced ingredients, Clark created Bon Bon Bon, a unique gourmet shop – and a staple for the Detroit community.
“Detroit is an incredible community, and we are lucky to call Hamtramck in particular, with amazing neighbors, culture, inspiration and support, home,” states Clark.
Clark opened Bon Bon Bon’s first Hamtramck location in 2014 and has taken the sweet scene by storm. She opened a second Detroit second location in 2015, and her techniques and achievements as a young pastry chef earned her a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list (and the modest title of “Best Young Pastry Chef in the World”).
Clark’s second location represents many businesses’ desire to contribute to the city’s resurgence while maintaining its culture: she found a historic building that had been abandoned after a fire and flipped it to something new. She embraced the building’s original structure and design by maintaining original features, but now she has 10 times the space of her original shop.
Clark’s ingenuity redefines industry norms, in terms of ingredients, product, and process.
Bon Bon Bons are “good goodies” that are filled with a variety of creative concoctions. Clark imports chocolates from Peru and Ecuador as well as other cocoa capitals and mixes in ingredients from Michigan farmers.
Partnering with the nonprofit “Bees in the D,” Bon Bon Bon installed two beehives on the roof of its Detroit location and grows its own produce, herbs, and fruits.
Frustrated with some of the chocolate industry “norms,” such as the high cost of the boxes, thick waxy coatings, and non-labeled chocolates, Clark packages Bons in her trademarked 100 percent recyclable boxes – produced from sources less than a mile away from the Detroit factory.
“We believe that good people deserve good chocolate, and we are absolutely honored to serve our home-sweet-Hamtramck and the rest of this city doing what we do best,” states Clark.
Clark’s artistic and personal take on desserts make are also what make her unique. She argues that chocolate should be labeled, that customers should choose however many bons they want, and that flavors should be creative. At Bon Bon Bon, you will find seasonal, innovative flavors, such as Cider & Donuts and High Tea. While the Bon Bon Bon menu constantly changes, consistent fan favorites include “Better Butter Crunch,” Better Made potato chips with milk chocolate and sea salt, and “Birthday Cake,” birthday cake ganache, buttercream frosting, and sprinkles.
Reflecting back on her time at MSU, Clark states that the community was full of people who supported her various interests. “Still to this day, I lean on my alumni network and contacts from MSU in many areas when my business is in a phase of growing or learning.”