After over a decade of honing and sharing his culinary talent with the rest of the world, award-winning pastry chef Ely Salar is fulfilling his lifelong dream in his home country: running a business that would showcase Filipino flavors and artistry.
Last July 8, at the Podium in Ortigas, the pastry chef and chocolatier opened Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat, a pastry shop that offers premium and artisanal bakes. One could say it’s the culmination of a long, sweet journey that started in his childhood years in Palo, Leyte.
“My earliest memory dates back to when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I recall eating raw bread dough because I was sneaking bread from our aunt’s bakery,” he says. “I'll never forget the aroma of freshly baked bread coming out of the oven.”
The young Ely was naturally excited when his parents decided to open their own bakery. Raised by a father who’s an excellent cook and baker, Ely naturally took an interest in the kitchen where he’d whip up whatever ingredients he found and turn them into something edible and nourishing. In his teens, he learned to make a variety of local breads like pandesal, monay, and pan de coco.
His interest in food led to taking up hotel and restaurant management at the Leyte Normal University. His internship was at the confectionery and pastry shop of the Busch Gardens Williamsburg, an amusement park in the US. After graduation, he never had to look far to find work—he was offered a job in the same pastry shop, and that was how his professional career in the world of F&B began.
In the succeeding years, Ely had the chance to work as a dining supervisor in a French restaurant in Singapore, and as a bar manager in Canada. When the opportunity opened up to become a pastry cook at Mariott Hotel in Calgary, Canada, he took the post and was eventually promoted to become head pastry chef.
Ely considers his years as a pastry chef in Canada as the peak of his culinary career. There, he won several awards and competitions. He was overall winner of the Pastry Chef Showcase Competition 2018 in Alberta; first place in the Lindtt Chocolate Showpiece Competition (Pastry Chef Showcase), also in 2018; and winner in the Best Dessert Category (Pastry Chef Showcase Competition) 2018. He was also bestowed the Excellence in Culinary Arts Award 2018 by The Filipino Champions of Canada (TFCC).
But after more than a decade of working abroad, Ely wanted to go back home to the Philippines. So in March 2019, with no solid plans, he flew back to Leyte. “I wanted to start a business—that’s always been my dream. But I didn’t know yet what or how,” he tells ANCX.
That year, the chef acquired and developed Elfortunella Farm in Leyte, which grows cacao, calamansi, and various fruit trees. Teaching in different culinary schools and doing consultancy work for a chocolate company in Mindanao kept him busy for several months. But in early 2020, the Covid pandemic struck and posed huge challenges for the food industry.
“When I moved to Manila [from Mindanao], doon na kami nag-usap ng wife ko, because I wasn't sure if may makukuha akong work as a chef,” he shares. That’s how they came up with the idea of selling cakes online.
In November 2020, they started offering his sweet creations to family and friends. By February 2021, just before Valentine’s Day, they officially launched Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat. The love month definitely gave their business a boost. “I was selling 150 cakes in three days,” the Samarnon chef says.
When people started asking him if his cakes were available in a shop they could visit, that’s when the husband and wife decided to open a brick and mortar space.
“What we did was try to marry the European techniques with flavors that are familiar to the Filipino palate, and I think we’ve been successful in doing that,” offers Ely, explaining the idea behind his cake shop. To make his treats, he uses the cacao from their farm in Leyte along with Belgian and French chocolates. “Our cacao gives that smoky flavor na hindi nakukuha sa imported chocolates,” the chef offers.
Of their offerings, Ely takes the most pride in their Entremets—these are multi-layered cakes encased in a beautiful mirror glaze. Imagine biting into a cake of wonderful flavors, and textures that range from light to creamy, to crunchy and then pillowy and smooth.
Their bestseller is the Chocolate Entremet, which is made of 64 percent dark chocolate mousse, moist chocolate sponge, homemade crispy wafer crunch with hazelnut praline paste, and milk chocolate. This is encased in a dark chocolate mirror glaze with edible 24k gold leaf accents. The Entremets come in flavors such as Mango Magnifique, which is made with fresh Philippine mangoes, and Yema Cacao, a distinctly Filipino treat which merges the the sweet, silky local delicacy with rich homemade chocolate.
Gâteaux de Voyage is the Pâtisserie’s version of travel cakes. Try their Banana Chocolate, an indulgent sponge cake with white chocolate streusel, banana ganache, and dark chocolate ganache; the Tablea Nut Brittle, which is made up of tablea chocolate sponge, salted caramel nut brittle, and tablea chocolate cremeux; or the bright and tangy Calamansi Bavarian, which is a calamansi pound cake topped with candied calamansi and wrapped in white chocolate.
The owners designed the store to be an experience for the senses. The highlight at the counter is the work station, which serves as a stage for the culinary team. There, diners can see their artistry and skills in creating and perfecting the final look of the pastries. Everything is on display, from glazing cakes to handcrafting and setting garnishes, so customers can see the craftsmanship and care they put into every detail.
Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat’s store located on Level 2 of The Podium. You may also order for pick-up or delivery thru this link https://form.jotform.com/213533794041453. Follow @patisserielechouxcolat on Facebook and Instagram to get updates on new flavors and seasonal offers.