A bean-to-bar chocolate handmade from cacao beans, Dalareich Food Products sources its tablea (roasted, ground and molded nibs of fermented cacao beans) from small farmers in Sierra Bullones and Carmen towns of Bohol province, renowned for its Chocolate Hills.
“Five years from now, I’ll be making Bohol literally the island of chocolates,” said chocolatier Dalareich Polot, manager of Dalareich Food Products and founder of Ginto Fine Chocolates.
Dalareich, namesake of the family run business, has always dreamed of a chocolate factory where tourists can learn chocolate making, and showcase proudly their products.
Last September, this dream came true with the opening of the Dalareich Chocolate House, thanks to Peace and Equity Foundation and BPI Foundation’s Sinag, a business challenge that provides mentorship and financial support for social enterprises.
“Life was hard back then,” remembered Polot, sharing the bittersweet journey of realizing her dream.
Polot’s father, Ricardo, drove a tricycle plying the streets of Tagbilaran to provide for their family. To make ends meet, her mother Elsa made tablea by hand and sold these to small stores in their neighborhood while juggling work as a street sweeper.
Still in fourth grade then, Polot already had a fascination with chocolates. Most of her childhood was spent helping her parents run the small business–preparing tablea and bringing these to stores and supermarkets in the city.
Over the years, Dalareich Tableya slowly grew through deals secured from hotels and supermarkets nearby.
Today, the chocolate factory’s nearly 20 production workers, mostly mothers and students, process seven tons of cacao beans every month—a manyfold increase from initially producing only five kilos of tablea from a small hut in Barangay Booy, Tagbilaran City back in 1994. Their products are now being supplied to five-star hotels like the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, SM Kultura branches in Cebu and Manila, Mactan-Cebu International Airport and to supermarkets in Bohol and Cebu.
In 2014, the never-ending zest to learn more about chocolates led Polot to study cacao and chocolate processing at the Ghent University in Belgium where she learned from the best chocolatiers in the world. Upon her return, Ginto Fine Chocolates was born. Ginto Chocolates are artisan, dark chocolates that come with coconut, chili and mint flavors and fine chocolate pralines.
The dream to instill the same entrepreneurial spirit in cacao farmers keeps her focused. She enables them to grow, harvest, process their own cacao beans and build their businesses.
“Social entrepreneurship is a mission; it’s not just about making money,” added Polot.
Hoping to seize a favorable opportunity for the country’s cacao farmers and chocolate makers, Polot represented Bohol’s cacao-growing communities in Salon du Chocolat, one of the world’s largest chocolate shows in Paris, France. The event took place from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center in Paris. (PR)