Hidden gems are the writing pieces that reach out and tap me on the shoulder in my day-to-day life. They surprise me or delight me so much, I just have to stop and analyze them.
Today’s Hidden Gem: Chuao Choclatier
A few weeks ago, I was in California for my sister’s wedding. We stopped in the gift shop of Nepenthe and just had to try this Chuao bar of chocolate with chips in it. I admit I expected it be more of a novelty, but it was actually delicious. Unlike other disappointing products I’ve tried, this magical bar of chocolate has somehow preserved the crunchiness of potato chips. It creates a sumptuous contrast to the creamy milk chocolate.
The inviting photo on the wrapper would have been enough to get my attention. But then I flipped it over and started to read. Chef Michael Antonorsi’s life journey is included in one entertaining, concise paragraph. Chocolate is more than a trade to him, it’s his calling. He did not fall into this business, he left a job in the tech industry to go to culinary school in Paris.
“I followed my heart, and discovered that it was made of chocolate.”
It’s hard to say for sure, but this may be the best sentence I’ve ever read. Plus, the story is inspiring. In 30 seconds, I went from hoping I liked it to rooting for someone I’ve never met. This chocolate did not come from some anonymous factory, but from the heart and soul of an underdog. An adventurer. A dream-chaser.
Just for fun, let’s try to imagine how that conversation went with his friends and family, or anyone who subscribes to conventional wisdom.
Michael: I’m going to leave my stable job in a thriving sector to go to culinary school in Paris.
Friend or co-worker: I wouldn’t do that. I really, REALLY wouldn’t.
Friend or co-worker: Do you have any idea how hard it is to start a business?
Friend or co-worker: You don’t need to go to Paris for this. Side hustles are the new thing. Everyone does it that way.
Friend or co-worker: The chocolate market is saturated. Look at the competitive marketplace. And think of the profit margins.
Friend or co-worker: Michael, this is an intervention.
It’s possible that Michael received only support and optimism. But the truth is that it takes a lot of courage and faith to make this kind of a career pivot and to go all-in to do it. And some genius was wise enough to turn this story into a part of the brand. It gave me more faith in the chocolate. Because after reading this story, I don’t believe Michael would have given up his other career for anything but phenomenal chocolate.
There are a few other highlights. The description of the chocolate bar is top notch. The reference to CHEW-WOW offers a clue about how to pronounce the brand. And not to waste even the smallest opportunity, the side of the bar includes the words, “indulge often.” Don’t mind if I do.