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Remarkable Living

The Singaporeans behind mala hotpot and salted egg cereal-flavoured chocolate

Fossa Chocolate founders Jay Chua, Charis Chia and Yilina Leong were among the first in Singapore to introduce the concept of single-origin chocolates. Today, the brand has fans not only locally but as far away as France, Germany and the US.

The Singaporeans behind mala hotpot and salted egg cereal-flavoured chocolate

Shrimp & Bonito is a dark chocolate inspired by a trip that the founders made to Tokyo’s Tsukiji market. (Photo: Threesixzero Productions)

Good food and desserts have always been the friendship fodder between Fossa Chocolate’s three founders.

Jay Chua, Charis Chia and Yilina Leong had met each other at different points of their careers, but all three shared a common passion for gourmet nibbles. One day, when their mutual friends brought back some chocolates from the US, they had an epiphany.

Charis Chia and Jay Chua. (Photo: Threesixzero Productions)

Chua gushed, “When we tasted the craft chocolate, which had only two ingredients, cocoa beans and cane sugar, it was actually mind-blowing. There were flavours of raspberries and hazelnut.”

They started spending their weekends making, and later, selling their chocolate creations. As interest in their chocolates grew, they decided to turn it into a full-time business.

As interest in their chocolates grew, the founders decided to turn it into a full-time business. (Photo: Threesixzero Productions) “The very first chocolate that inspired our journey was a single-origin dark chocolate and the beans were from Madagascar.” – Yilina Leong Fossa Chocolate was moulded in 2017, its name inspired by a cat-like mammal endemic to Madagascar. “The very first chocolate that inspired our journey was a single-origin dark chocolate and the beans were from Madagascar,” Leong explained.

Chia, who dreams up all the flavours together with Chua in the kitchen, says that they may have crazy ideas, but taste is still foremost – the chocolate must be delicious, memorable and distinct. They also place a great emphasis on the quality of ingredients used.

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The trio, all under 35 years old, complement each other in their skills. Chua quipped, “I’m basically the nerd of the company, the one who deep-dives into the technical aspects of chocolate. Yilina is the business’s driving force. Without her, I think the company will just be a passion project.”

To this, Chia, who has a bakery and fine-dining background, playfully interjected: “I like to do things that are a little bit out of the boundaries, a little bit different and try to make things more interesting. Maybe he thinks I’m weird!”

(Photo: Threesixzero Productions)

Fossa was among the first in Singapore to introduce the concept of single-origin chocolates. Today, it has fans not only locally but as far away as France, Germany and the US.

Ingredients are purposefully sourced, based on unique flavours that will enhance the taste experience. Depending on the provenance of the cacao beans, each batch of chocolate bars may taste different.

They have created unique flavours such as Spicy Mala, inspired by the popular spicy mala stir fry pot dish; Chilli Peanut Praline, a praline reminiscent of Malay satay sauce; and Shrimp & Bonito, a dark chocolate inspired by a trip to Tokyo’s Tsukiji market.

Fossa has also collaborated with rare tea curator Pekoe & Imp to introduce the concept of pairing Chinese tea with chocolate. Pekoe’s co-founder and director Li Hongyuan commented: “Singapore has a very Westernised culture. People are not looking to appreciate traditional teas anymore. I think introducing it through chocolate makes tea more accessible. The respect that [Fossa] has for the teas also makes the collaboration a lot more meaningful.”

At first, there were concerns about how the flavours of the expensive tea leaves would come out in the chocolate, but Fossa’s gamble paid off. Three of their tea-flavoured chocolates won accolades at the 2019 International Chocolate Awards.

(Photo: Threesixzero Productions) “We get different cultures, and we present them in a bar… I think it presents a pretty good Singaporean flavour.” – Jay Chua Chua said: “I always feel that when you understand the food, where it comes from, how it’s made, and the nuances of the particular ingredients and the process, you can actually appreciate and enjoy it better. That’s the Fossa experience that I hope consumers will really experience.”

Adapted from the series Remarkable Living (Season 3). Watch full episodes on CNA, every Sunday at 8.30pm.

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Source: CNA/ds

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