Sometimes it seems that chocolate comes on the far ends of the spectrum: either fun, cheap and low quality, or formal, expensive, and exquisite. But Michael and Richard, brothers with a passion for chocolate, have infused their chocolate with fun and a fabulous taste experience.
Just look at the packaging! There is nothing ordinary here.
When I was introduced to the Chuao team at the Fancy Foods Show, I jumped at the chance to go meet the folks in San Diego, and see their factory up close. So recently we took a little trip down south to meet the Chuao team, check out their production, and taste some chocolate!
One of the first things we asked Mitchell, of the Chuao team, to explain was the name of the chocolatier. Chuao is the name of a small village in coastal Venezuela, famous for cacao of excellent quality. And it has a little fun right in the name--if you take a bite of chocolate and and chew
, you'll want to say wow
! Chew-Wow! And it wasn't just a whim that led the brothers, Michael and Richard, to choose that name. They are of Venezuelan heritage, and their grandfather had a cacao plantation in this area of Venezuela.
Their mother is German, and Michael especially, has wonderful memories of being right by her side as she cooked and baked. The food experience inspired him as he grew and even after he left home. The infusion of Venezuelan with their European heritage served as an inspiration for what was to come.
After graduating from college, the brothers began to establish themselves in their chosen careers in the high tech industry. But Michael always had that passion for food, and he took the plunge into culinary school in Paris. He trained as a French Chef, and then also had specialty training in Pastry and Chocolaterie. Michael had a desire to bring a piece of his Parisian experience to America. He came to San Diego, where he and his brother Richard--the businessman--embarked on the Chuao experience. They opened their first chocolate cafe in 2002 in Encinitas, where it still stands. We enjoyed some bonbons and gelato there one afternoon. They also have another chocolate cafe in Del Mar.
The chocolate is gently warmed, the natural ingredients are added, and the mixture is then poured into the chocolate molds.
Michael blends ethically sourced chocolates to create the Chuao experience. To that base, he adds ever-increasing combinations of ingredients to create a unique and delicious chocoate treat. Popcorn, bacon, potato chips, cayenne pepper, honeycomb, and much more--it makes me curious to see what he will come up with next! Michael and his team make sure they are using the finest ingredients, with no fillers, preservatives, or artificial flavors.
Michael's "mind of a chef" is always creating new flavor combinations, and this year Chuao launched their breakfast chocolates, Strawberry Waffle Wild and Cinnamon Cereal Smooch. But don't neglect their original flavors--the Rocky Road is amazing!
Once the chocolate is firm, the bars are removed from the molds, and then inspected and packaged.
They were packaging the Baconluxious bar when we were there.
Look at these fantastic wrappers!
I really appreciate that Chuao now makes small "choco pods," or mini-bars. Just the right size for a little treat without (much) guilt!
Mitchell sent us on our merry way with a gift bags of great samples, and happy taste buds.
It's so nice to have deliciously high-quality chocolate infused with fun! Enjoy some soon!