Image credit: The Sugar Man
After taking up tenancy on Hutt Street four years ago, The Sugar Man is returning to open its first brick and mortar store in late February.
The sought-after sweet treats created by chocolatier Alex Crawford will soon have a permeant fixture in the vibrant precinct, with The Sugar Man planting its roots and operating opposite its previous wholesale home.
“We’ve been looking for four years, and we’ve been close to opening a few times, but things have popped up or not gone right in terms of negotiations,” Alex says.
What started as humble beginnings making macaroons and cronuts for his mates at Coffee Branch and Please say Please, Alex’s passion and business has organically grown. Adelaide has developed a hankering for The Sugar Man’s sweet stuff, and soon, they’ll be able to indulge in its chocolate and pastry creations developed in house.
The storefront will act as a chocolate shop from Tuesday to Friday, while Saturday will be saved for solely fresh pastries to the Hutt Street locale.
The notion behind the separated operation days at The Sugar Man circles back to Alex’s days doing pop-ups in Adelaide cafes.
“We used to do [sell pastries] on a Saturday,” he says. “And it proved to be successful, and I thought I want to carry on that with our place.”
Alex is the only one who makes The Sugar Man pastries, and while he says there’s potential for adding a sweet Sunday, compromising on the quality isn’t something he’s willing to do.
And as for drinks? The Sugar Man will leave that to the coffee experts.
“Go to Harsh at Coffylosophy – he lives and breathes coffee,” he says.
“As much as I love coffee, I’d rather trust other people on the street that have far better knowledge on it.”
During the winter season, The Sugar Man will be pouring its artisan hot chocolate to help take the chill off the colder weather.
While Alex began his culinary journey in pastries, the chocolatier developed his passion for smooth, rich cocoa after shutting his previous wholesale store in 2018.
After putting countless hours and energy into production, he says he “burnt the candle at both ends,” and re-centred himself travelling Europe. Upon returning, Alex poured his appetite for chocolate into creating the bespoke and highly sought-after Sugar Man bars SA has become familiar with.
“We spent a month and a half travelling the North of Italy, and we looked at what they were doing with pastry and chocolate, and I fell in love with chocolate,” Alex says.
“They’ve developed more knowledge…and I found it fascinating.
What The Sugar Man can’t source in SA, Alex makes sure it derives from other Australian producers. The only exception to the rule is the smooth French chocolate used.
“It was something we fell into, and I thought I could really see this working in South Australia, the only difference being that I wanted to introduce SA ingredients,” he says.
“I love to eat, so everything is about nostalgia.”
Using rhubarb from his own garden and the Adelaide Hills to make composite jam, and marmalade made from his grandmother’s 64-year-old Valencia orange tree – Alex’s memories and experiences are subtly intertwined throughout several Sugar Man chocolate bars.
“It’s something that I’ve grown up with,” he says.
“My mum used to make [rhubarb and custard] all the time because she grew her own…and my grandmother would grow all these oranges and make her own marmalade.
“My grandfather then used to have a spoonful [of marmalade] as his dessert with his glass of Port. So that’s how it comes across.”
The Sugar Man marmalade croissant chocolate block is an intoxicating mix of gooey homemade marmalade and crunchy caramelized croissant pieces, folded throughout 41 per cent milk chocolate.
The imaginative blocks don’t stop at childhood memories. The Sugar Man also produces a summer pavlova white chocolate, a gooey dark chocolate macadamia gin caramel and a festive hot cross bun milk chocolate bar, using Riverland oranges and glacé ginger.
But when asked what his favourite thing about making chocolate is, Alex laughed and replied “Eating the best chocolate I can source is the best thing about [this job] truthfully. I probably eat about two chocolate bars a day.”
While The Sugar Man is yet to move into his sweet new digs (pun intended), Alex holds big dreams for its future.
“Now that we’re in a retail shop, we can now ship interstate and we can start shipping into different countries – but obviously one step at a time,” he says.
“We’d love to be interstate first, so we can showcase what South Australian producers and farmers can grow, and what we can do as a state.
“I’d be proud as punch if I can represent South Australian produce overseas and show what we can do.”
The Sugar Man is expected to open at 197 Hutt Street in late February.
Find The Sugar Man blocks at The Smelly Cheese Shop, East End Cellars, Culture Shock Provisions, Barossa Cheese Co and Belair Fine Wines.