Truly Tablea

- Ralfe Gourmet () - August 16, 2011 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - They’re making the premium chocolate to make the Filipino proud.”

These words from veteran food technologist Rosabel Roncal encapsulate the mission of Ralfe Gourmet to bring products made out of 100 percent cacao closer to the Cebuano palette.

Roncal, herself a blue-blooded Cebuano, acknowledges that the Philippines has since missed the chance of making the most out of the cacao, a raw material for making chocolate that grows primarily in this part of the world but whose true potential to tickle the taste buds was developed by other popular chocolate-producing countries like those in Europe.

Ralfe Gourmet, Roncal says, envisions of filling this gap by producing premium chocolate made out of 100 percent cacao beans provided by Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (CocoaPhil), “a non-stock and non-profit organization of farmers, cacao buyers and processors, and committed professionals.” CocoaPhil, helmed by the dynamic leadership of Edward David, stands as the umbrella organization for the Cocoa Industry in the Philippines.

Raquel Choa, founder and President of Ralfe Gourmet, says that apart from supporting CocoaPhil’s advocacy of helping local cacao farmers and buyers, the company believes in the organization’s larger thrust of pushing locally-produced cacao to the global market.

One way to support this advocacy is to highlight the quality of CocoaPhil’s cacao through Ralfe Gourmet’s flagship chocolate concoctions with 100 percent cacao.

With a solid partner like CocoaPhil, every product whipped by Ralfe Gourmet and its subsidiaries – Broma Artisan, Tablea Tavern and Tablea Chocolate Patisserie – is made out of nothing less than premium chocolate. Among those that would soon hit the Cebuano market include, among others, Ralfe Gourmet’s delectable versions of rice crispies, pralines with cacao nibs, and tablea chocolate ganache.

“My grandmother said everything starts with the beans. It is crucial that the cocoa beans are carefully selected, cleaned and sorted. Once they are ready, the beans are roasted to perfection with controlled heat and specifict amount of time. The smell and taste of the tablea largely depends on this important process,” Choa, herself a tablea maker, once wrote in her journal. 

Roncal, a food technologist of 40 years, helps Ralfe Gourmet uphold a commitment to excellence by making sure that each product undergoes thorough research and analysis to ensure quality.

“Food technology is a science of food production….you can do product analysis and you can do other technical studies,” Roncal explains. One important area Roncal is keeping an eye on in Ralfe Gourmet is the safety of its products. “We should know whether there are organisms present….organisms can cause diseases….you analyze nutritional components,” she says.

Roncal has done research and microbiological and chemical work for the International Rice Research Institute and the Food Terminal Incorporated before doing consultancy work for major food companies in the country.

Her presence in the team is what gives Ralfe Gourmet the cut above the rest, Choa says.

Together with the soon-to-open Shopwise, a facility managed by Rustan’s in Barangay Mambaling in Cebu City, Ralfe Gourmet will open the doors to its first Tablea Tavern located right at the heart of the facility. There, Cebuanos can savor sumptuous bites and dreamy brews made only from premium cacao chocolate. A few of the creations that Cebuanos should watch out for, Choa announced proudly, are the tablea pandesal, Ralfe Gourmet’s appetizing twist to the much-loved local bread, as well as the almond and cacao pie and tablea chocolate dome cake created by Choa’s young son Anthony, a natural food critique and future in-house chef.

For the Cebuano and visitors on the go, Choa says Ralfe Gourmet will be opening the Tablea Patisserie at the lobby of some major hotels in the city to display chocolate gifts or keepsakes. This way, Ralfe Gourmet products can be made available to more people.

More exciting products are certainly in the offing, but Choa says that as the brand begins to carve a name in the local chocolate industry, one thing will remain the same – each bite or sip of Ralfe Gourmet concoctions will always be one delicious experience. Joeberth M. Ocao

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