Amer Wahoud is very much the gentleman about town – very comme il faut and whose courtesy never slips. He is cosmopolitan with a brilliantly innovative mind and lashings of charm. Amer has a subdued elegance which speaks volumes about him. His unswerving commitment to fantasy is slowly turning into reality. ‘There is no straight and narrow route to success. It’s all about hard work and new ideas and, to me, quality and attention to detail are a must,’ he assures me.
Amer managed to cajole a tired old property down the steps of Santa Lucia street in Valletta into a dazzlingly contemporary chocolate boutique, which also serves coffee and refined artistic cakes. ‘It is not a shop selling chocolates and cakes,’ he emphasises. As founder and creative director of Sunday in Scotland in Valletta, Amer has regular clients who go there with their laptops to work in one of the quiet rooms upstairs. Turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse, Sunday in Scotland has been a game changer in Valletta where Baroque is king. This is more than just a place in which you pop in for coffee and cake. ‘It is a whole lifestyle,’ he emphasises. Yes, I am totally convinced as I step into Sunday in Scotland and enjoy the ambiance. Amer has created an experience – one of exquisiteness. Plates, cups, saucers are custom made with great attention to detail. You go there for the pleasure as well as the goodies. It is for the discerning: a showcase with beautifully displayed hand-crafted chocolates and cakes. Indeed,walking into the shop is an experience in itself.
Sunday in Scotland is the beginning of a bigger vision. Amer is planning openings in Berlin, Hamburg, Edinburgh and Stockholm where he feels that quality is truly valued in these international cities. He is a bon vivant, an Haute Bohemian. Amer feels he has a mission to make people truly appreciate good chocolate. ‘This is an investment I would like to succeed so that people forget industrial chocolate which is made in bulk and is full of additives. I want them to appreciate that good chocolate is healthy.’ And offering me one of his delicacies, ‘I want them to be able to cultivate a taste for different aromas; to understand the difference between one chocolate and another.’ I point out that truly, his chocolates are refined and delicious but they don’t come cheap. ‘The Sunday in Scotland chocolates are a treat. You will forget the price after tasting them and realize they are worth every penny you spend on them. My aim is to make people understand how much better and healthier it is to eat handcrafted chocolates which have no additives; to occasionally treat yourself to a small amount and enjoy them, savoring each and every one of them, rather than get fat on industrial chocolates,’ he says convincingly
Amer is environmentally conscious and everything in the chocolate boutiques and factory has to be eco-friendly. The boxes and bags which are used are recyclable. Anything that is non-recyclable is nowhere to be seen. He explains: ‘When you come back for more chocolates, bring your box with you and we will fill it for you for less. I can’t bear the thought of all those boxes being thrown away after just one brief use.’
He explains that the cocoa world has changed and cocoa farmers are steadily increasing their price; since good quality cocoa is expensive, good quality chocolates cannot be cheap. ‘I try not to cut costs at the expense of quality. I want to produce nothing less than exquisite chocolates of high quality. I simply would not be happy with something inferior.’ For Christmas he is planning a seasonal treat in the form of a boat. The Phoenician in him manifests itself. ‘We are in Malta after all. The Christmas cake is a tradition adopted from the British. It is not a Mediterranean tradition. Although I respect tradition, I would like to introduce something new, something Mediterranean.’ He goes on to explain that the base of the boat will be chocolate. ‘I am still creating it in my mind, but don’t worry, it will be ready for Christmas.’ I have no doubt it will. There will also be hampers full of delicacies, naturally. This creative young man brings out some sketches of the Christmas theme. ‘Look at these and tell me what you think.’ For yes, Amer is also an artist. He cultivates beauty which he wants to share with others. What drives him is Art. ‘Once the chocolate base is ready, we will use chocolate pearls and ganache. It will be both elegant and delicious; a special gift for a Sunday in Scotland Christmas. I promise that it will be a work of art. It will create only delight when you present it anywhere or put it on the Christmas table. Tradition is good but it can become a little dull... so I am coming up with something new.’ He already has discerning clients - ‘but now my objective is to bring to the life of the average person those things which were once the privilege of only a fortunate few.’ This is a man of many surprises and the greatest surprise is what lies behind the façade. ‘I have a lot of creative things happening in my head but I am not going to discuss them yet,’ he says mysteriously. However, he lets out that his upcoming project involves chocolate, naturally, but in a totally different world. We’ll have to wait and see. ‘My vision is to constantly create... whatever I do is an unstoppable creative process. I can always see that something can be better.’ Need I add that he is a perfectionist? We have to leave him to work on the idea of a new chocolate experience, his next project, and go back to the chocolate boutique. ‘People think that Sunday in Scotland is Scottish but when you visit the chocolate boutique you will see that it is international even if the idea originated in Scotland. It’s a mélange of many different things: the chocolates are French or Swiss; you look at the desserts and they remind you of Rivoli. There is also something Mediterranean about the place – the rich aroma of coffee perhaps,’ he points out. Scotland is present in the authentic story behind this project but Sunday in Scotland is an imaginative lifestyle, a mélange of cultures.
If you look closely at the art hanging on the walls you will see that some are located in Scotland. The idea of the chocolate business came when Amer was walking with a friend – a grand hotelier – in the Scottish countryside. It occurred to them how comforting it would be to walk into somewhere attractive and have some good coffee/tea and delicious chocolates. And thereby hangs the tale of Sunday in Scotland. One instance when fantasy was turned into reality. Born in Beirut, Amer is much travelled and has lived in Vienna, Scotland and Montreal. So why did he choose Malta? ‘Because we share a common history especially whenit comes to thePhoenicians.We aremerchants. The Maltese Islands, like Lebanon, fell into the sphere of influence of the Phoenicians who were great traders. I like Malta because geographically it suits my lifestyle and I can travel easily from here. I like the weather, and yes, it takes me back to my childhood,’ he explains not without nostalgia. Sunday in Scotland offers an artisan collection of delicate chocolates, cakes and biscuits made with the utmost care from meticulously sourced ingredients. n For more information: www.sundayinscotland.com
173 Triq Santa Lucija, Il-Belt Valletta, VLT 1187,
Malta +356 9999 6656
T: +356 7951 8066