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    Chocolate Lovers, Rejoice! Belgian Tableya Now Exists—And It Was Created By A Filipina!

    Migration, marriage and missing home.

    These three circumstances greatly influenced Filipina entrepreneur Myey Moens to start the world’s first Belgian tableya. Her why was simple: to celebrate one’s roots, marrying the flavors of her native heritage and her new home in Belgium.

    After finding true love almost two years ago and nurturing a long distance relationship for months, the petite Filipina made the huge decision of moving to the charming city of Gent—all to begin her happily-ever-after with her husband Matthias.

    And just like that, a cross-cultural romance gave birth to a cross-cultural tableya—Theo & Brom—that would definitely make your Valentine’s Day sweeter.

     

    A cross-cultural romance gave birth to a cross-cultural tableya

     

     

    Today, Myey has sold hundreds of batches of hand-crafted, melt-in-your-mouth tableya rounds, using cacao sourced from the Philippines. Word of her business venture has already spread like wildfire across continents! And to think, her success story began one afternoon back in 2018 in the comfort of her living room.

     

    How it all started

    As Myey and Matthias sat on their couch and listened to a webinar one afternoon, the speaker emphasized, “Your business idea need not be as innovative as an iPhone. It can be something very simple, but gives great value to your audience.”

    As ideas gushed through her head, Myey turned to her husband and asked, “Do you like tableya?”

    “Apparently, it was his first time to hear about it, and to my surprise, there isn’t much about it on Google either. That triggered the whole idea,” Myey quipped. “We were in Belgium, and it’s known for its chocolate-making expertise. And I’m also Filipino—we have an amazing age-old recipe for a chocolate beverage. We had to create the world’s first Belgian tableya.”

    Staying true to her mantra of celebrating one’s roots, Myey thought of naming her chocolate business Theo & Brom, inspired by the scientific name of cocoa: Theobroma Cacao.

     

    The world's first and only Belgian tableya was created Pinay entrepreneur Myey Moens

     

    The birth of Theo & Brom

    Myey quickly acted on her lightbulb moment, pitching her idea to chocolatiers and manufacturers in Belgium. “They were all cold pitches — all sent to the email addresses listed on their websites. Some replied, many more didn’t, but for those who responded, everyone politely declined,” the Filipina shared. But she believed in her idea—and nothing could stop a woman who was driven. “I was disheartened but I kept sending more emails.”

    As fate would have it, a YES finally came through—on the exact day she ran out of people to send messages to.

    The e-mail came from Dr. Zoi Papalexandratou, the co-founder of cacao consulting agency ZOTO. Call it coincidence or fate, but it’s hard not to believe that the universe was conspiring to make all these happen. Just a week before Myey sent an e-mail, Dr. Zoi was in the Philippines to talk on post-harvest protocols with local cacao producers. “In her e-mail, she even recognized the recipe I was trying to describe, and asked if I was referring to tableya,” Myey added.

    “I will never forget that moment. On my list of contacts, arranged alphabetically, her name was the last. And just when I was about to lose hope, she said ‘yes’ to help me make my project come to life.”

    Dr. Zoi, known in the industry for optimizing post-harvest processing of fine cacao, believed in Myey’s idea. And she wanted to be part of the story, too. Today, she is Theo & Brom’s Lead Cacao Advisor. “She is very well-known and respected in the industry, and I am happy to be learning from a mentor like her,” Myey quipped.

     

    Dr. Zoi Papalexandratou, Theo & Brom’s Lead Cacao Advisor 

     

    In an exclusive interview with Metro.Style, Myey gives us the low-down on everything you need to know about the world’s first Belgian tableya.

     

    Metro.Style: What makes the Belgian chocolate-making process special?

    Myey Moens: Belgium became famous for the invention of the praline, a confection with a hollow cocoa shell and a sweet filling inside. Chocolatiers are in almost every corner of town, and many are small family-owned businesses. This craft takes years of mastery and experience, and dates back centuries, when it was first introduced by the Spanish. The Belgian chocolate-making traditions have always kept a very high standard on ingredients and quality, giving them a reputation of producing fine chocolates.

     

    MS: Who creates the Theo & Brom tableya?

    MM: Our Belgian tableya is handcrafted by Mario Vandeneede, an award-winning chocolate maker. In the book Belgian Chocolate: Bean-to-bar Generation, Mario is described as “one of the most important chocolate-makers in Belgium.” He is also a professor at the HK Hotelschool Ter Duinen, renowned for producing numerous Michelin-star chefs.

     

    Theo & Brom tableyas are handcrafted by award-winning chocolate maker Mario Vandeneede

     

    MS: How did you incorporate tableya into this product?

    MM: We are part of the bean-to-bar generation, which simply means our chocolate-making process starts with actual cacao beans. Our debut batch featured 65% single-estate De La Serna cacao beans from Davao, Philippines. We also used 30% muscovado to give it a raw, unrefined sweetness mixed with the cacao, and 5% cacao butter to make the mouth-feel smooth. From roasting to rounds, Mario crafts each batch of Belgian tableya with his artisanal expertise.

     

     

    MS: What sets this Belgian tableya apart? What distinct flavor can people expect?

    MM: We made sure our recipe made a final product that satisfies both preferences: melt-in-your-mouth or melt-in-your-drink. The mouth-feel of our Belgian tableya is unrefined yet delicate enough to qualify as smooth, taking on the fine chocolate texture Belgian chocolate is known for. Distinct flavors of the De La Serna blend feature nutty, fruity, and caramel notes.

     

     

    MS: How did you get into the business of creating chocolates? What made you want to pursue this industry?

    MM: My friends have been asking this as well because I am no dessert fan. I didn’t pursue the industry per se. Instead, I pursued the idea. My gut feel told me it had huge potential and it would be a waste if I didn’t follow through. Many people believe that in starting a business, your product should be your passion. This isn’t always true, at least for me. My passion is driven by the pursuit of great ideas, and making sure I stop at nothing to make it happen.

     

     

    MS: How do you envision your brand 10 years from now?

    MM: A decade from now, I see Theo & Brom as a brand recognized globally for its mission of celebrating cross-cultural connections. The Belgian tableya is a part of our journey’s beginning, and it’s proof of that core mission. That is the core of our craft.

     

    The Metro.Style experience

    The Theo & Brom tableya rounds were directly shipped to us in a dainty cardboard box. Inside were four rounds of tableyas, packaged in chic, monochromatic paper.

     

    One round (60 grams) can make 2 to 3 cups of piping hot tsokolate. We followed the recipe, melting one round with milk on low to medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.

     

    This hand-crafted chocolate can be enjoyed as a drink or on its own

     

    As expected, Theo & Brom was an equal mix of home and novelty. The dark, rich flavors reminded us of our own tsokolate, the one we’ve grown to love. But at the same time, it was the perfect balance of dark and sweet, rich and smooth. Indeed, Theo & Brom was able to marry the best of both worlds: the Philippines’ flavorful cacao beans and Belgium’s expertise in creating the finest chocolates.

    One box of four rounds sells for 35 Euros (1,999PHP), which includes international shipping from Belgium to your doorstep. For the Metro.Style team, it’s a steal, considering that each tableya is not only a sweet treat, but also a masterpiece of an award-winning chocolatier.

    This artisanal chocolate can be enjoyed as a drink or on its own. Savor it by the front porch as you read the morning paper, share it with your family over breakfast, or treat yourself to a cup or two as you brainstorm ideas in the comfort of your own living room. Just like driven Filipina entrepreneur Myey.

    For more information, visit theoandbrom.com.

     

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    Photos coutresy of Theo and Brom