Surfer Student turned Chocolatier
Christian Valdez, a fourth year BS-IHM student specializing in culinary arts at Enderun Colleges partners with long-time surfer buddy to open a chocolate shop with distinct Filipino flavors at the Bonifacio Global City.
Princess Daisy C. Ominga of the Philippine Daily Inquirer features the dynamic duo and their amazing, fun adventure for the two surfers who just like to mix and combine unique food and drinks.
Want a taste of “Salt & Pepper Caramel” chocolate? Are you brave enough to try gumamela-flavored chocolate? How about the chocolate version of the famous Pinoy drink “Gin-Pom?”
These peculiar chocolate flavors come from the experiments of friends and business partners Christian Valdes and Marvin Bagube.
When the two surfing buddies with a shared taste for exotic food decided to start their own business, the most inane ideas topped their list. But what they finally came up with makes an interesting combination of things that are, well, unique and weird.
With Marvin’s experience as an intern for the Mandarin Hotel, where he learned from the head chocolatier, and Christian’s business and marketing skills, the two put up CMBV Confectionaires—a chocolate business that satisfies both their sweet tooth and their penchant for weird flavors.
“I was amazed by the chocolates Marvin brings, and I asked him to show me how to do it. When he did, I said, ‘We’re on to something here. Let’s do something that’s completely different from everyone else,’” Christian shares.
After working for 10 years in the United States, Christian came home and met Marvin, who was from La Union, while surfing in one of the beaches there. Both have never tried going into business before, and were aware of the risks involved in starting one. Still, being the adventurous men that they are, they took the plunge and surfed into the world of business.
Marvin, who studied culinary arts, used his skills to make chocolates with original flavors, while Christian approached establishments and pitched their unique products. Through hard work and determination, they were able to make people notice their chocolates. By November 2012, they were supplying chocolates to food establishments, even at Manila Polo Club and the Mactan International airport.
Seeing that there’s a market for uniquely flavored chocolates, they decided to open their own shop in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig in April 2013.
Marvin is the head chocolatier, Christian is the general manager, but they share the main task: Taste-testing.
“We had lots of trial and error. We are adventurous with the food that we eat, and we try to incorporate that with our chocolates. If we don’t like the combination of the flavors, we scrap it,” says Christian.
Interestingly, local fruits and ingredients comprise the main materials for their chocolates. Although their chocolates are from Belgium, Venezuela and Peru, and the coco butter is from Italy, the rest of the flavoring are from the Philippines.
“We like to make Filipino flavors. We want Philippines visitors to experience the Philippines through something different,” says Christian.
With chocolates like “Santol,” “Minted Kalamansi,” and “Binondo,” among others, foreigners, as well as locals, get to experience the unique combination of Filipino flavors.
All the chocolates are handmade by Marvin, even the painstaking task of designing each and every single piece of chocolate. This is where he gets to express his creative side. He incorporates the ingredients and the things associated with them to the designs.
“The ‘Brazilian Coffee’ has a red paint in the middle which is inspired by the red coffee stirrer. The ‘Chamomile & Juniper Berry’ has blue paint that looks like a petal, while the “Sencha Green Tea” has designs that look like branches of sakura (cherry blossoms). The liquor-flavored chocolates are shaped like a shot glass,” Marvin explains.
The chocolates come in a simple yet elegant packaging, which complements the chocolates, making them look like jewelry.
“People tell us that, sometimes, they just want to look at the chocolates because of how beautiful they look,” Christian says.
Aside from the Manila Polo Club and Mactan Airport, the chocolates are sold at Vask Modern Tapas & Gastronomic Cuisine, Kyo Patisserie, and at their shop on Bayani road, Fort Bonifacio.
Because of the reputation they have gained with their unique and beautifully crafted chocolates, personal orders for giveaways and gifts have been pouring in, making Marvin and Christian busier than ever.
They can make chocolates and finish designing up to 1,000 pieces in 8 hours, and deliver them personally to clients. During hectic times, the head chocolatier and the general manager also moonlight as janitor and dishwasher.
It has been an amazing, fun adventure for the two surfers who just like to mix and combine weird food and drinks. As they learn the ropes of running a business, they hope to stand out in the crowded industry and be recognized for their eccentric taste and originality.
As they work on their dream of opening a bigger store, and possibly exporting their chocolates someday, they know that a new, weird but tasty chocolate flavor is just waiting for them to be discovered.