chocolates and candy

This Filipino couple built a fancy chocolate café using local ingredients from Leyte

Steph Arnaldo
This Filipino couple built a fancy chocolate café using local ingredients from Leyte
Filipino pastry chef Ely and his wife started selling his chocolate confections on Instagram – now they have a stall at The Podium!

MANILA, Philippines – Pass by this fancy-looking chocolate café at the second level of The Podium and you might think it’s an international chocolatier brand from Europe, just like I did. However, it’s not – Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat is proudly homegrown and 100% local, and this French-inspired dessert spot actually began as just a humble Instagram, delivery-only bakeshop during the pandemic.

LOCAL BRAND. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Choux-Colat was founded by husband and wife Chef Ely and Jiannina in February 2021. After training in Canada, award-winning Filipino pastry chef Ely arrived back home armed with the skills and drive to create a fancy dessert repertoire inspired by classic French techniques and his love for familiar, Filipino ingredients.

CHEF ELY. Photo courtesy of Choux-Colat
STORE DISPLAY. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Chef Ely first made sure that most of his ingredients would be grown and handpicked locally, and that he would be supporting local communities at the same time. He partnered with farmers to help grow his farm, Elfortunella Farm, in Leyte, which is where he sustainably sources his cacao beans and calamansi from, among other native ingredients used for his French confections with culturally inspired flavors.

Starting small, growing fast

Chef Ely and Jiannina started the same way many online home businesses did in the pandemic – purely online, for delivery only, and with just a handful of handcrafted hero items to sell. In February 2021, only Chef Ely’s Chocolate and Coffee Crème Brûlée Entremets were available, but rightfully so – these have always been (and still are, up to this day) his popular best sellers and most decadent desserts.

CHOCOLATE ENTREMET. Photo courtesy of Choux-Colat

We tried the beautiful and sophisticated Chocolate Entremet, which was both sinful yet not overly sweet. The gorgeous, multi-textural creation is made with a moist chocolate sponge cake atop a crispy wafer crunch, hazelnut praline, and smooth milk chocolate, layered with a silky 64% dark chocolate mousse and encased in a shiny, almost-perfect dark chocolate mirror glaze adorned with 24k gold leaf accents.

This mainstay dessert is a chocoholic’s heaven, and is available in the original size (P1,720) or miniature size (P450). We also tried Chef Ely’s chocolate bonbon on top – the crunchy chocolate exterior encases a burst of smooth, silky chocolate inside.

MINIATURE CHOCOLATE ENTREMET. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Because the demand for his sweets quickly soared, Chef Ely was pushed to add other desserts to the menu, like the gâteaux de voyage (travel cakes) and handmade chocolate barks. Choux-Colat also began appearing in weekend food fairs and started selling in person. A year later, it was time to expand some more – this time, to build Choux Colat’s first brick-and-mortar store in a mall.

A French-inspired taste of home, in the flesh

Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat’s first physical store opened to the public at The Podium, Mandaluyong City, on July 8, managed still by Chef Ely, Jiannina, and their hardworking staff.

HUSBAND AND WIFE. Photo courtesy of Choux-Colat

The quaint café is set up in a way that passersby can see the freshly made confections up close through a glass display and watch Chef Ely and his sous chefs expertly prepare and intricately garnish various dessert creations in the flesh.

CHEF ELY AT WORK. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The seating capacity is very minimal though – there are only two tables and a small bar available for a few dine-in customers; however, Jiannina said that they plan to expand the dining space soon.

STOREFRONT. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

The brand’s classy French elements are reflected in the stall’s designs and branding. Chef Ely worked with a team – architect Tricia Perdigon, designer Cal Tavera-Katigbak, and engineer Romel Laquian – to create a homey space that draws inspiration from both French Art Deco and Filipino design elements. You’ll notice the solihiya chairs, paired with marble coffee tables and golden accents.

SEATING. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Aside from the Chocolate Entremet, make sure to try Choux-Colat’s Gâteaux de Voyage, a small but compact cake bar that’s similar to a pound cake, topped with different ingredients. Among my favorites was the Carrot Cream Cheese, a moist, soft carrot sponge cake topped with a smooth, white chocolate cream cheese (not your typical, sugary, artificial cream cheese frosting), glazed sweet carrots, and crunchy milk chocolate praline crumbles for a welcome crunch. If you’re a fan of the simple but satisfying carrot cake, this is a goodie.

CHEF’S PLATE SAMPLERS (MANGO MANIFIQUE AND CARROT CAKE). Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

As a fan of citrus desserts, the refreshing Calamansi Bavarian is worth a try – it’s a mildly calamansi-flavored pound cake topped with candied calamansi and wrapped in white chocolate. My favorite part of this dessert was the caramelized, candied, sweet-tangy slice of calamansi on top – I could’ve eaten more of those!

DESSERT SAMPLERS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
TRAVEL CAKES. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Another sweet-tangy dessert any mango lover would enjoy is the pretty Mango Magnifique (P1,720), made with fresh Philippine mangoes and layers of mango mousse, mango gelee cubes in vanilla diplomat cream, vanilla citrus sponge cake, and a streusel crunch, and on top is a white chocolate mirror glaze.

A Filipino favorite, the Tablea Nut Brittle is an ode to the native cacao, made with tablea chocolate sponge cake, salted caramel nut brittle, and a decadent tablea chocolate cremeux. With Chef Ely’s desserts, every element is well-made and well thought out, resulting in exquisite-looking desserts that look like they belong in a Parisian bakeshop but taste like they’re elegantly made from home.

For more tablea goodness, Choux-Colat’s handcrafted Traditional Tsokolate (P180) hot drink is a must-try – it’s rich, smooth, and just the right balance of bitter and sweet.

GATEAUX DE VOYAGE. Photo courtesy of Choux-Colat

Other flavors of the filling Gâteaux de Voyage cakes fit for chocoholics are Chocolate Rocher (fudge cake with feuilletine hazelnut crunch, chocolate truffles, and chocolate praline); Almond Praline (vanilla pound cake, almond praline, and whipped chocolate ganache); and another favorite of mine – the Banana Chocolate, which has a moist banana sponge (like a really good banana cake), topped with white chocolate streusel, banana ganache, and dark chocolate ganache. 

Each Gâteaux de Voyage costs P180 per piece and P990 for a box of six flavors.

CHOCOLATE BARKS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Don’t leave without taking home at least a gram of Choux-Colat’s artisanal chocolate barks! They’re crunchy, thick, smooth, and perfect if you need a quick chocolate fix of either dark, white, or milk chocolate, paired with some crunch. The premium and store-exclusive items come in 75% Tablea Dark Chocolate Almond, Milk Chocolate Praline, White Chocolate Cookies and Cream, and Dark Chocolate Wafer Crunch flavors.

MENU. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Aside from Traditional Tsokolate, other drinks on the menu include Signature Tsokolate, Espresso, Americano, Cappuccino, Café Latte, Flat White, and Tablea Café Mocha. It’s nice to enjoy a cup of hot brew and a pastry in the store, but it’s also just as convenient to take out a cake for a special occasion or some pastries in case a sweet tooth craving hits at home. – Rappler.com

Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat is located on the second floor of The Podium. Customers can still order for delivery via the brand’s Facebook, Instagram, or online form.

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.