My first time experiencing Chuao Chocolate (pronounced Chew-wow) was a few years back in downtown Encinitas, California. I just happened to be walking by as this wonderful scent of chocolate hit my nose. The shop was small but the smells and the sight of little hand made chocolates intrigued me. I decided to go in and buy a few. One bite and I knew, I was hooked. The chocolates were so rich and well made. The flavors were both exotic and comforting. I decided then and there that this was my favorite chocolate shop.
Since that wondrous day, Chuao Chocolatier has grown. They’re no longer in that little boutique on the strip in Encinitas, but they didn’t move far, putting their production and boutique in the same building just down the road in the city of Carlsbad. They are still relatively small for the production they put out nationwide, but in spite of their growth, they still remain family owned and quality is still their top priority.
Chuao Chocolatier is the dream of chef Michael Antonorsi and his brother, Richard. The brothers are originally from Venezuela and their family owned Aguasanta, a small farm known for it’s fine cacao. So to say that chocolate runs in their blood is a bit of an understatement. Opening in 2002, they decided to name the company Chuao, after the central Venezuelan region that is known for it’s legendary and high quality cacao production. Their focus has been in making wonderful chocolates with creative flavors.
Just recently I had the opportunity to take a tour of their facility and make a few of their Traditional French Wild Truffles. Our group was relatively small with only 12 of us present. Our tour guide was the lovely Laura Regal. Laura was a very warm presenter and her passion for Chuao’s mission definitely showed. She gave us a brief history of the company while we sampled a few of their signature chocolates (which I gladly partook in, but of course), before she led us on our tour of the factory.
It was such a neat experience learning about their chocolate process and how important it is to chef Michael that they use the highest quality of ingredients. He personally chooses them himself to make sure they meet Chuao’s standards. This company takes great pride in what they produce and if you’ve ever had any of their chocolates, you would agree.
After our guided tour about the production area, we were brought over to a couple of tables all set up and ready for our own truffle making adventure. Laura carefully showed us the ropes in expert truffle making, letting us take a taste (or three) here and there. She then showed us how to carefully roll the truffles on our own. It was fun watching everyone try and perfect their truffles as our hands were all covered in chocolate and cocoa powder. It was so very tempting to lick your hands and I must admit, some of us were guilty of doing this once we were all done and waiting by the sinks for our turn to wash our hands. (And when I say some of us, I mean me). After all, this was good quality chocolate. It would be wasteful otherwise.
Once the truffles were all rolled and everyone was all cleaned up, we got to box our truffles up to take them home. This was such a fun and informative experience. I definitely recommend it if you get a chance. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to give you their truffle recipe, but feel free to arrange a tour and I’m sure they just might be willing to let you in on the secret. Tours can be arranged through Chuao Chocolatier’s Facebook page in the events tab.