this is a perfect subject for chef to speak on, as his Venezuelan roots are such a big part of chuao's conception and daily inspiration. his ancestors owned aguasanta, a small venezuelan farm known for its fine cacao, and so a love of chocolate is naturally in his blood.
As chef michael explains, "Being from Venezuela, which produces one of the finest cacaos in the world, we started with this idea of bringing it directly to the US and opening a space in the market. And that’s why we chose the name Chuao. It is a cacao-growing region, and we wanted to represent the quality of one of the best cacao-growing regions in the world. So, we started with Venezuelan chocolate, which has the flavor we like to express – it has a flavor profile that is a little more tart and fruity than European-style cacaos, which I find are a lot more flat. So, that’s how we started importing Venezuelan cacao."
along with being the inspiration behind chuao's name and cacao flavor notes, michael's heritage is also a large inspiration behind many of the recipes he creates in the chuao kitchen. spicy maya was the second bar ever released by chuao and is an homage to mexican chocolate. later flavors like totally tangy mango and cheeky cheeky churro are also products crafted from his childhood nostalgia.
when faire asked what celebrating hispanic heritage month means to him, chef michael replied, "We don’t have a Hispanic Heritage Month—we have a Hispanic heritage life. What’s so beautiful with Hispanics is that there’s always so much to celebrate. We don’t say, 'OK, today we’re going to specifically celebrate our heritage.' We live that celebration every day. We also have a really great Hispanic heritage community inside our company, which was so important during the onset of COVID-19 because everybody supported each other."
we asked the rest of our employees to add their thoughts on what hispanic hearitage month means to them. "Hispanic heritage month celebrates the achievements that all Hispanics have made in this country and the successes of us all. The latinos came to this country to contribute our grain of sand. This is a country of great opportunities, and we are giving back our customs, traditions, meals, etc. we especially love the union that we Latinos have. It means a lot to us, because it is part of our culture," said Minerva, chuao's production supervisor.
as chef michael stated, the employees here at chuao have built an incredible community that celebrates their culture and each other by throwing parties all year round. home-cooked food, cakes and fresh flowers are in constant rotation in the chuao employee room (which usually smells incredible).
Minerva says, "We have built a very good team to celebrate us all on special occasions, birthdays and other holidays, which makes us feel special. Chuao is our second home, we are as a family is the feeling of the employees. When we celebrate, we feel loved, and we do everything very beautifully because it is very special."
chef michael sums it up perfectly. "As a Venezuelan in the United States, I’m incredibly grateful for the way the American public embraced us. I was very surprised that people were so outspoken about their appreciation. It really fuels the day—when we get that recognition, we just want to do more good things," he said.
to learn more about chef michael, head to our blog here.
cake and image by mmc bakes.