Meet Award-Winning Chef and Chocolatier Ely Salar of Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat
Get to know the confectionery master behind one of the newest and chicest pastry shops in Manila
Chef Ely Salar’s culinary career started the moment his family founded a bakery business. A true chef-at-heart, his cooking and baking adventures began when he was only 10. “I started cooking for my siblings when I was 10 years old, just experimenting with whatever we had in our pantry. My father is an excellent cook and baker; he was the one who taught me how to cook and, eventually, bake when we opened the bakery,” he says, narrating how he discovered his passion for making pastries.
Apart from his dad, his cousins and aunt likewise influenced his love for baked treats. After all, he comes from a family of bakers. “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 the bakery. I'll never forget the aroma of freshly baked bread coming out of the oven,” the chef shares in an exclusive interview with Metro.Style. “Pandesal was the first thing I learned to bake. At the time, I was 13 years old.”
Chef Ely’s journey in jumpstarting his dreams was a dirt road that he had to roam barefooted. “Growing up, I felt that I was not particularly gifted in any subject, and that I consistently failed in the arts—possibly because I am colorblind. So, when I started working in our bakery at the age of 13, I had a great time,” he shares.
Chef Ely believes that being a chef is his calling, one he’s destined to be. He pursued a profession in the field, following his humble beginnings at their household bakery. He says, “I thought I was good at it, especially since I began training our employees at a young age. That was the moment I decided I wanted to become a chef.”
Prior to putting up his artisan business in the Philippines, Chef Ely has worked in the global culinary scene. After finishing his academic studies in Tourism, Hotel, and Restaurant Management from Leyte Normal University in Tacloban, he eventually earned his Red Seal Chef and Journeyman Baker culinary certifications through an apprentice training in Alberta, Canada while working as Pastry Chef at Hotel Arts in Calgary on the side.
“Working in Canada and abroad, particularly with high-end hotels and restaurants, helped me in reaching my full potential as a chef,” Chef Ely muses. “My work experience and exposure to high-quality food and service standards inspired me to strive for excellence in all that we do at Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat.”
He then took his skills further by enrolling in a five-star pastry masterclass program at PreGel America in North Carolina. His education, which spans Asia and North America, also enabled him to access his chef idols. He cites, “Chef Antonio Bachour is one of my pastry chef idols, and I trained under him. I also went to Singapore to train under Chef Frank Haasnoot at the Chocolate Academy.”
He prides himself in achievements that recognized his talent and passion. His awards include: Excellence in Culinary Arts Award 2018, The Filipino Champions of Canada (TFCC); overall winner of the Pastry Chef Showcase Competition 2018 Alberta Canada; 1st Place Lindtt Chocolate Showpiece Competition, Pastry Chef Showcase 2018; winner of the Best Dessert Category, Pastry Chef Showcase Competition 2018 Alberta Canada; 1st Place Chocolate Showpiece Competition, Pastry Chef Showcase 2016 Alberta, Canada; winner of the People’s Choice Award in Calgary Sugarcraft Cake Competition 2015 Alberta Canada; and Second Place for Contemporary Cake Category at Calgary Sugarcraft Cake Competition 2015 Alberta Canada.
Deepening his knowledge in delectables in the international terrain invited more opportunities for the man, but Chef Ely’s dream of establishing his chocolate empire never ceased to nudge him. He declares, “My dream has always been to own a pastry shop, and I wanted to do so in my home country. I wanted to share what I learned from my work experience abroad and help elevate the Filipino food experience.”
His comeback to the local culinary landscape also allowed him to notice the novel changes in Filipino cuisine and the Filipinos’ ever-evolving palate. “We are now more willing to try new flavors. More Filipinos have traveled abroad, making it easier for them to relate to and understand how we prepare food with foreign influences,” he ponders.
Upon his homecoming, Chef Ely unpacks his visions. First, he worked on the 20,000-square-meter farm he acquired in Leyte called Elfortunella Farm. He shares, “We primarily grow calamansi, cacao, and mangoes. We also have a fish pond, as well as several fruit trees and vegetables. I used to dream about making my own chocolate from the cacao we grow on our farm. This motivated me to plant more cacao trees.”
Then he worked on his dream of catering to various Filipino homes, which heralded his foundation of Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat in 2021. “There were only a few cafes and restaurants open during the first few months of the pandemic, and my wife and I noticed how difficult it was to get a good pastry to pair with any coffee, particularly during lockdown,” he opens. “We thought it would be a good idea to offer high-quality, premium desserts that we could deliver to various homes. We wanted to spread joy through our desserts, especially during one of the most difficult times in our history. We believe that enjoying a good quality dessert does not require a special occasion.”
With the pandemic onslaught lurking in the corner of the local food scene, Chef Ely and his far-seeing pitch propelled him to finally foray into his own brand. Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat started online and recently expanded to a physical store at The Podium, introducing a stretch of confections that suits the Filipino palate, while pinning it on French classics.
Chef Ely tells us, “Throughout my time working with and studying pastry, I was captivated by how elegant, technical, and creative French pastries are. When developing our products, I wanted to combine my passion and love for Filipino food with my knowledge of French pastry.” With ingredients that are sustainably sourced from his Elfortunella Farm in Leyte, it is not surprising that their products are of premium quality.
Asked about the food and drink pairings he recommends from Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat’s delectable répertoire, Chef Ely offers, “Our store menu also includes pastries that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. We created Petit Gâteaux (mini cakes), which are smaller versions of our entremet cakes. We also sell our Gâteaux de Voyage (travel cakes) by the piece; they are typically sold in boxes of six. We have homemade chocolate barks sold by the gram, so customers can enjoy chocolate on the go.
“For drinks, I recommend our Traditional Tsokolate or Signature Tsokolate, both of which are made using our own tablea. These two go well with our Calamansi Bavarian, Carrot Cream Cheese, or Almond Praline Gâteaux de Voyage (travel cakes). We also serve various coffees made from beans from Sultan Kudarat. You can pair them with our Petit Gâteaux or mini cakes.”
Visit Pâtisserie Le Choux-Colat's store located on Level 2 of The Podium.
Follow them on Instagram @patisserielechouxcolat