Chuao deems itself a "joy factory." That's a lot for a chocolatier to live up to, but they've earned the title – with chocolate bar varieties verging on the wicked, from Maple Bacon to Potato Chip to the Salted Chocolate Crunch Bar, Chuao invites indulgence, champions craving and delights in the decadent. But what makes them truly fantastic is how they manage to do so without ever taking it too far – they always start with the highest quality chocolate and never totally overwhelm it with other flavors. It's a candy bar for the connoisseur.
The two who started it all, chef Michael Antonorsi and his brother Richard, ethically source their chocolate from the legendary cacao-producing region of Chuao (pronounced chew-WOW) in central Venezuela. They wouldn't think of sourcing it anywhere else – both are Venezuelan-born, and their ancestors owned Aguasanta, a small Venezuelan farm that was a major player in the criollo cacao plantation industry. A love of chocolate wasn't just in Michael's blood – his blood is practically made of chocolate.
It all started back in Michael's German mother's kitchen, where he would plant himself as she cooked and baked for hours on end. By the time he left home (at 16!) to study biomedical engineering at the University of California at San Diego, flavor and texture were his "best friends." He put them to use, using his mother's recipes to impress friends and fill up on his own. In graduate school back home, he took cooking classes on the side, but ultimately made a name for himself, along with Richard, as a tech industry entrepreneur.
Still, chocolate called. Michael listened – intently. He packed up his family and headed to Paris, training as a French Chef at École Supérieure de Cuisine Française Ferrandi, also receiving specialized training in Pastry and Chocolaterie at the acclaimed École LeNôtre. After that, he teamed up with Richard for a new sort of tasty entrepreneurial venture: a gourmet "fusion" chocolate company, based back in San Diego.
We're so glad that Chef Michael realized his true calling, because we're not sure we could live without these chocolate bars!