Chocolate Queen expands business
Raquel Choa’s new ventures: House of Maria Cacao, Chocolate Tour, Batirol
Cebu’s Chocolate Queen Raquel Toquero Choa further spreads her chocolate empire with a formal announcement of two more business ventures: the Chocolate Tour and the mass-oriented retail brand Batirol.
She is also opening the “House of Maria Cacao” at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu to curate cacao-themed products that highlight the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of women.
“The Chocolate Tour is technically not new to our list of products and services. We have been entertaining chocolate tours for close to two years already and it has been inspiring how people would actually come out and ask questions about cacao and chocolates,” said Raquel.
The Chocolate Tour consists of three components: the chocolate journey, a short talk on cacao and how it’s made into tablea; chocolate stop which will be done at The Chocolate Chamber stores; and the 1521 high tea, which happens at 3:21 in the afternoon and showcases the sweet and savory side of chocolate.
“The chocolate journey highlights the Filipinos’ rich tradition of tablea making and how these pure tablets evolved as an essential culinary ingredient,” said Raquel.
The chocolate journey happens at the Casa de Cacao where participants are treated to an educational experience about cacao bean, its components and the process it goes through to become the famous tablea.
Raquel said they recognize the value of cacao beans as new techniques are incorporated in tablea production from well-fermented and solar-dried beans that are roasted, sorted, ground and molded.
Each person pays P1,500 for a group of 11 to 15 people. Prices vary depending on the number of people (P4,800 for one person; P3,000 for two to three persons; P2,100 for four to five persons; and P1,800 for six to 10 persons).
The Chocolate Stop and 1521 High Tea have separate prices.
In this tour, Raquel and her team are introducing the retail brand, Batirol.
“Since we started with The Chocolate Chamber (TCC), there have been numerous inquiries on when are we going to open it for franchise. But we realized that TCC has creative touches that cannot be easily replicated so we decided to create another brand that’s easier to explain to possible franchisees,” said Raquel.
Batirol will utilize the to-go concept and will be selling sikwate (chocolate drink made from tablea) and cupcakes. These products are all made from tablea.
But the Cebuano entrepreneur is not keen in just making money and approving all applications for the franchising of Batirol.
Kiosk of Batirol
Raquel says they will operate a kiosk of Batirol outside the TCC Boutique in Barangay Kasambagan (near Sarrosa International Hotel) for six months before accepting franchise applications.
“We want to go through the experience of running a Batirol kiosk first because we don’t want to disappoint our franchisees. We’ve been telling friends and people who inquire to wait a little bit longer so we can work on closely perfecting the Batirol concept,” she said.
Raquel has also expanded her chocolate business to a skin care line under the brand name “Raquel” which features cacao lava (that can be used as a make-up primer and a relaxing chocolate wrap) and theobroma oil (cacao butter in liquid form).
Marco Polo tieup
In partnership with Marco Polo Cebu, Raquel is in the process of transforming a nook of the hotel into a “house” that welcomes cacao-based products created by women. Raquel will curate all these creations – such as soaps, candles and varied artworks – under the “House of Maria Cacao”.
“This is beyond chocolate and I believe this is a way of inspiring other women to maximize their talents and create more products. I will curate products of other women and help them make their products known. Women should help each other succeed and this is my way of supporting my fellow women to excel and continue to be good in what they do,” she said.
Raquel rose to fame with the popularity of chocolate buffets which she hosted in her home in Casal’s Village. The area was later converted to Casa de Cacao.
Under the company Ralfe Gourmet Inc., Raquel and her team rolled out several brands such as The Chocolate Chamber (boutique in Kasambagan and a store with about 15-person seating capacity in Robinsons Galleria). Her latest ventures are: Raquel emollients (skin care line), Batirol and the House of Maria Cacao.
Apart from the Chocolate Tour, Raquel has also organized Chocolatada, an intimate gathering of family and friends over light savory snacks featuring the cacao de bola.
The cacao de bola, made of the finest pounded cacao beans, is Raquel’s version of quezo de bola.
The Chocolate Tour and Chocolatada gatherings are arranged on a by-appointment, per reservation basis.
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