Chuao Chocolate

On a recent trip to San Diego we discovered an incredible chocolaterie at University Town Center (lovingly known by locals as UTC) in La Jolla called Chuao Chocolatier. Blasts of lilikoi (passion fruit) wrapped in ribbony caramel, salt butter infused with rosemary, lemon tequila dark chocolate ganache, . . . all encased in award-winning Venezuelan chocolate from a cacao farm named Aguasanta or sacred water. We wonder: what could be more sacred than chocolate?
We had the opportunity to find out about the sensational flavor combination creations from Chef Michael Antonorsi, the culinary powerhouse of Chuao (pronounced Chew-wow), who runs the company with his brother Richard Antonorsi. “We have a culinary approach to our chocolates and like to cross over ingredients from the savory world to the sweet world. When I see an ingredient in at the farmers market or in a cookbook I immediately start thinking of ways I could use it in chocolate. When I am working on a concept I gather the ingredients and put them all in my mouth and top them with chocolate just to get the feeling if this combination will work. If it does, then I start thinking about the experience, like ingredient was too strong or too weak. Then I begin correcting the proportions and playing with the layering of textures and flavors to create a balanced multi-sensorial experience. Needless to say, I have a lot of fun in the kitchen.” The description brings a memory of the Disney movie Ratatouille to mind and a pang of hunger for the mouth-watering morsels. We recommend the “ChocoPods” for an excellent way to taste exotic flavors like panko, firecracker, and their signature Spicy Maya.
Chef Michael at Aguasanta. Photos courtesy of Chuao Chocolatier.
WAFT: What are your favorite travel spots in San Diego?

MA: Encinitas for cruising and living, Laguna Hedionda in Carlsbad for Stand up Paddle boarding, Ansa Borrego desert for Camping, North Park and Hillcrest for dining out.

WAFT: Great insider secrets. Tell us more about chocolate and Aguasanta.

MA: Cacao (pronounced kah-kow) is the raw material that chocolate is made from. It originated in the northern part of South America, now Venezuela, where I was born and raised.

WAFT: Sounds like instead of a heart with four valves in the shape of a fist, yours is more like a bonbon, no? What was your first memory of  drinking spicy hot chocolate?

MA: After watching the movie “Chocolat” with Juliette Binoche, I saw chocolate in a new light. I connected deeply with her character’s philosophy and it inspired me to pursue what is now our vision: To arouse your senses with unusual, unexpected and delicious chocolate experiences. When we created the Spicy Maya hot chocolate I was pleasantly surprised by how comforting the combination of the hot, velvety chocolate was with the soft warmth of the spice in back of the throat. Double the pleasure, double the arousal.

WAFT: We agree, chocolate is the ultimate aphrodesiac. What makes Venezuelan chocolate so rich and delicious?

MA: Venezuelan chocolate is known for its elegant flavor profile. This is due to the genetic quality of the beans, grown in ideal geographical and climate conditions. The cacao bean is normally of the Criollo and Trinitario type. The main characteristic is the earthy and tart flavor profile that give way to red and black fruit notes and a lingering chocolate flavor with soft elegant bitterness.

Chuao has Chocolate Cafes in Encinitas, La Jolla and Del Mar, or visit them online when you have a cacao craving at

Chuao has graciously extended a promo to WAFT readers who’d like to savor the decadence of  Venezuelan Chocolate for themselves. Enter code “WFT” on online orders from 6/20/11- 7/20/11 and receive 20% off the indulgent flavors of Chuao Chocolate.

The brothers behind Chuao Chocolate.

Katherine Hsia

Known affectionately as "the wandering concierge," Katherine segued a hospitality career in fabulous New York City into a life pursuing her passions of writing, adventure and travel on the spectacular island of O'ahu. She is a freelance writer for publications such as Honolulu Magazine, Hawai'i Parent, Freesurf, and more, while working on her Hawaiian comic and non-fiction book. She enjoys seeing life for its whimsical beauty, great meals with good friends, her love affair with travel, and being overstimulated by new experiences. Want to get in touch with Kat? Add her on facebook or send her a message on her website,, where she's been known to get her blog on.

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