The Tzocolaté team caught up with Philo Chua, founder of award-winning Filipino bean-to-bar chocolatemaker, Theo and Philo Artisan Chocolate, to share his chocolate journey with us.
1. What’s your background? Why and how did you get into chocolate?
My background is actually in Computer Science and IT. I was living and working in the States for a few years, but I wanted to start my own business. While I was there, I’m a frequent watcher of the Food Network channel and really got into food and cooking. Thinking about a food business then became a natural progression for me even though I had no background in food.
The inspiration came with this new shop in Pittsburgh that sells gourmet chocolates from around the world. There was a trend for what they would call “single origin” chocolates, which meant that the cacao bean used to make the chocolate come from only one region or country—much like with wine. It piqued my interest and in my research I learned that only tropical countries within 20 degrees of the equator, like the Philippines, can grow cacao.
So even though we thought European chocolates are the best, the raw materials come from countries just like ours. So that got me thinking of doing single origin Philippine chocolates since nobody had it at the time, and that was the time that I decided to come home to pursue this.
2. When and how did you start your company?
I went home to the Philipines from the US to start this chocolate company and that was around September 2007. It was basically just me who started it, because everyone else in our family was busy with their own respective jobs. It was also because the concept, though not really new, was still new in the Philippines.
What I was trying to do was unfamiliar to the people I talked to so it was mostly me trying to figure things out.
3. What mission have you set yourself for making chocolate?
When I started, I had 2 main missions which are still relevant up to now. First, it's to create a Filipino chocolate that is world class and can have its place in the global stage. Second, it's to be able to help out some of our less fortunate brothers and sisters in society.
4. What is your chocolate-making philosophy?
Our philosophy is to keep things simple and stick to what's natural. As long as the raw materials we source are good, everything else will follow well naturally.
5. Why do you think people should try Theo and Philo chocolate?
I think everyone should try everyone's chocolates! Every craft chocolate maker has a unique point of view when making their chocolates, and that goes for us as well. Aside from that, I think we try to create chocolates that are uniquely Filipino.
From the flavor combinations we come up with and the story behind the wrappers and the people who create the chocolate, there's always something fun and interesting to explore.
6. Why do you think people should try Filipino chocolates?
Of course taste matters, and Filipino chocolates from many different Filipino chocolate makers (including us) has won numerous international awards proves that we have what it takes to be some of the world's best.
Beyond taste, however, each bar of Filipino chocolates is normally made by small craft chocolate makers and each bar represents the hopes, wishes, laughter and hard work of the makers and the cacao farmers from whom we directly source the cacao.
Each bar is personal, each bar has a story, and each bar is lovingly sent out to the world to be loved.
7. What is your favorite part in making great chocolates?
R&D is always the fun part for me! We always get to try out new flavors, new ingredients and new processes. There's always something new to learn and explore!
Thank you Philo for sharing your story with Tzocolaté!
Buy Theo and Philo's chocolates of bold and fearless flavors at our online store in Sweden. Give them as a special gift in Tropical Holiday flavors or Milk Adventure flavors.