by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LONG BEACH, CA — As the saying goes, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Especially on Valentine’s Day.
Pinoy Romeo Garcia is a “matchmaker” whose focus is taste — infusing flavors with one of the most romantic, edible ways to spread love: chocolate.
The Filipino American chocolatier spends his days hooking up flavors, including Pinoy tastes, with different types of chocolate.
But at Romeo’s Chocolate pop-up in downtown Long Beach, it’s about making the perfect pair of chocolate with wine.
“Whenever you want to show love and care and affection and love to someone what better gift than chocolate? It’s a nice, sweet indulgence. I like to help facilitate that when someone wants to treat that special someone with a gift,” Garcia told BA.
The sweet world of chocolate wasn’t his first passion.
Garcia spent 15 years in higher education and did a lot of work with Filipino communities throughout California.
He eventually decided to go across the oceans to Belgium, to study the art of chocolate.
“It requires a lot of education, a lot of training,” he recalled of the experience. “It was a total 180 [from what I was doing]. I wanted to have the right training to understand chocolate, so I had to fly to Belgium and learn from master chocolatiers.”
These chocolates are a lot more complex than the regular candy bars you find at the grocery.
Romeo Garcia is a well-traveled man, and he says that each piece and flavor is a collection of the many places he’s visited.
While Garcia has truffled throughout Europe, his journey began in the Philippines.
The child of overseas filipino workers, his early memory of chocolates were the ones that his parents would send.
“When I do chocolate events such as this, that triggers [memories of] when our parents gave us Balikbayan boxes,” he said. “Those are gifts [of chocolate] that show affection and show care.”
His tasty pop-ups draw many fans looking to fulfill their sweet cravings.
Garcia is getting ready to open his crowdfunded shop in downtown Long Beach later this spring.
He also looks forward to going back to his roots as an educator, and will be giving chocolate workshops to youth.