Christian Valdes runs CMV Txokolat, which creates almost gem-like chocolates. Photograph by Jack Alindahao
Food & Drink Features

This Fil-Am surfer makes artistic chocolates filled with Filipino flavors

Christian Valdes stumbled upon his current career as a chocolatier while on a trip in La Union. Today, he’s built a cult brand that is decidedly, deliciously Pinoy.
Jacs T. Sampayan | Mar 10 2019

“It all started with my mom and grandmother,” explains Christian Valdes. “My mom always had the best chocolates from all over the world, same as my grandmother. I remember sneaking into her fridge after she had fallen asleep and I would eat my favorite chocolates there. But I think she was onto me because of the amount of chocolates I would consume in one sitting.”

Valdes eventually turned his childhood love for these sweet treats into a business he’s clearly passionate passionate about. He is the general manager and owner of CMV Txokolat which produces intricately designed chocolates with homegrown flavors—santol or minted kalamansi, anyone? While it’s a relatively new enterprise, the chocolates have gained a following.

After working for about a decade in the US, the Fil-Am went back to the Philippines and met Marvin Bagube while on a surfing trip in La Union. Bagube, the guy behind those tin can cake wonders under the label Le Sucre Labs, was then on an internship at Mandarin Oriental. After listening to his friend’s stories about chocolate making, Valdes decided to start his own business.

ANCX caught up with Valdes at The Refined lounge in Taguig.

After working in the US, you went back to the Philippines, met Marvin, and started your chocolate business. What made you guys want to do it?

I actually stumbled on the chocolate making business by accident. My friend was on internship at the Mandarin Oriental. He was working out of the chocolate room there. I remember being curious as to how chocolates were made, so I asked him if he could show me the process behind making them. He taught me the basics. I started making the chocolates as a hobby and I began noticing the more my skills grew so did the orders from friends and family. Next thing I knew I was registering my business in the BIR and SEC.

Experimenting with Filipino flavors has become your brand's trademark. Why did you decide on this?

The Philippines is a rich country especially when it comes to its culture and I wanted to highlight that. I really wanted to evoke that sense of nostalgia among those who grew up here while also giving those who grew up abroad a deeper understanding of what it is to be Filipino. That is why I decided that it was important to encapsulate the flavors in the Philippines into chocolates.

 

What's your favorite flavor?

I have to say the Binondo. I named it after the oldest chinatown in the world, which was established in 1594. I wanted to captured the history and pay homage to it. So I used red tea along with our trifecta blend of Chinese spices. You gotta try it! Once you’ve had one you will need to follow up with another.

What is your dream flavor?

Probably mangosteen. Like legit mangosteen that when you bite into it, you instinctively know exactly what the flavor is without needing to be told.

 

Where's the best places in the world for chocolates?

Hmmm aside from my commissary, I’d definitely say Belgium. It’s constantly growing and developing new technology to increase the many applications of chocolate.

You're an avid surfer. What do you like most about it?

I wouldn’t call myself an avid surfer, but what I really enjoy about it is being alone; all that’s between you and the water is the surfboard. I like how my mind goes completely blank and then snaps into surf mode. It’s truly peaceful.

Jacket by Masanting

Where are the best places in the world to surf?

Well I lived in California and I live here so no bias I have to say here and there. But hands down California peaked my interest.


How else do you unwind?

I love to travel and discover new ingredients that I can incorporate into my chocolates and my cooking especially the ingredients that have a story behind them. This really helps me unwind.

 

How do you stay fit being surrounded by sweets?

I work out six days a week. Life should have a balance. Why not stay healthy and enjoy the finer things too right?

 

CMV Txokolat is on Facebook and Instagram. For more information on The Refined, visit their website

 

Photographs by Jack Alindahao

Jacket by Masanting

Shot on location at The Refined Men’s Grooming Lounge