CEBU

The making of a ‘Chocolate Princess’

Hannah Mae Toquero Choa, daughter of “Chocolate Queen” Raquel Choa, has, on her own, earned the title of Chocolate Princess because of her passion to promote the Philippine cacao and to make her own cacao concoctions for the clients of The Chocolate Chamber.

Hannah makes, among other client favorites, the most delectable tablea brownies, assorted cookies—including cacao granule cookies—choco banana loaf and chocolate pizza.

When she was 13, Hannah (and some of her siblings) worked in the family’s The Chocolate Chamber (TCC) Café. She revealed that her Mom raised them to be comfortable with work, to see work not as a tedious process but “to do the best in things we do and to enjoy and love the process.” That way, work was never really work, especially as she loved to play pretend in the kitchen, and being cook, cashier and server in TCC was like play, except that she had real customers.

As years passed, she learned the value of work and it has made her “amenable to different areas at work,” she said, “but I also keep in mind that I still have a long way to go and many more things to learn.”

Hannah also traveled with her Mom “to share the Legend of Maria Cacao and our Philippine chocolate.” In 2015, when she was 15, they went to Singapore and Malaysia for site visits. The following year, she assisted her mother’s demo in New York’s Le Salon du Chocolat. They also traveled to Guam for a talk with the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce and a demo in the Guam Community College. In 2018, they were back in Guam for a presentation on the Philippine cacao with the Philippine Consulate and the office of Sen. Michael San Nicolas. Then they went to Indonesia for a talk and demo. Also in 2018, they went to Los Angeles and San Francisco, USA, for a talk and demo with the Bread of Life Community. They also visited Thailand that year, for a demo/chocolate appreciation with the Philippine Embassy.

“During our travels, I would experience different places and culture but to top things off, I am able to share our long tradition and hidden treasure, our Philippine chocolate,” said Hannah.

Hannah is thankful that she was exposed to “the real world” at a young age and was able to see her Mom build a brand from the bottom to the top. She believes that working with her Mom has molded her into the person she is today and more than that, she says she aspires to become better each day not only for herself but also for the people around her.

Some of Hannah’s creations are not cacao-based and are meant to complement the chocolate creations available at The Chocolate Chamber (TCC) outlet in Robinsons Galleria Cebu. Her loaf bread and focaccia were concocted during the pandemic when people were panic buying and she meant for these breads to be a substitute for rice. With no employees during the pandemic, she and her siblings have been the ones to fill/make the orders and for her, this is another learning process to enhance and develop her baking skills. Also, because of the pandemic and social distancing, she has made a virtual tour of the TCC premises for tourists who would have otherwise visited the place.

Asked if she would open her own outlet for her baked goodies as not all of her creations are cacao-based, Hannah, now 20, said she cannot see herself opening an outlet different from TCC as TCC has been part of her growing up.

“I would love to be able to fill the big shoes of The Chocolate Queen one day, continuing to preserve the tradition and promotion of our Philippine chocolate and to one day, be able to put the Philippines in the world map of chocolate makers.”


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