I aimed for every dessert to be extraordinary; to create chocolates nothing else could compare to. They soon became the most sought-after chocolate desserts in the city, and I ventured out as an entrepreneur. Suddenly, I inherited a new nickname: Choco Belén.
BOGOTA, Colombia ꟷ As a child, I experienced firsthand the magic of the kitchen. With a mother who worked as a pastry chef, the familiar smell of sweets always filled the air.
Wanting to pursue my own destiny, I went to college for music and for years, directed children’s choirs in the Venezuelan orchestra system. I always remained interested in bringing flavor to the table but doubted my abilities. To my surprise, a few years down the road, I became a confectioner.
As a well-known confectioner, my mother passed her gift on to me when I was a little girl. I remember making my first sweets at the tender age of seven. By 12, I made my first sales to a well-known restaurant in our city. While I viewed it as a hobby, I specialized in chocolates and when I saw the results, I felt thrilled. Pride filled my heart, but I pushed it aside to pursue my work in music.
I continued to dabble in the world of confectionery and developed a clientele in my city who appreciated each and every dessert. Eventually, I felt the time came to put aside the music I loved so much to pursue my true north and follow a new dream. I began to travel and learn new techniques; to surrender myself to what I lovingly call “chocosueño” or my “choco dream.”
I aimed for every dessert to be extraordinary; to create chocolates nothing else could compare to. They soon became the most sought-after chocolate desserts in the city, and I ventured out as entrepreneur. Suddenly, I inherited a new nickname: Choco Belén.
As I engaged with my customers, and they began recognizing my unique flavors, I got goosebumps. People everywhere recognized me as the “chocolate lady” and boy did I feel like the queen of cocoa! It motivated me to seek out the most delicious seasonings and flavors for my clients.
In 2018, I made the difficult decision to leave my home for the neighboring country of Colombia. While I made a name for myself as Choco Belén, the economic situation at home worsened and I realized the numbers were unsustainable. I wanted to maintain the quality of my products and keep giving my clients the flavors and smiles they grew accustomed to.
It felt like the time had come to walk toward a new dream, even if it meant facing the pain of leaving my land and my roots behind. I pushed myself to keep going and changing, despite the sadness I felt leaving my homeland. I arrived in Bogotá with my chocolate dreams packed in a suitcase.
As I faced the chaos of the move, my body felt cold and alone, but I settled in. I knew no one and felt unfamiliar with my surroundings. During those difficult times of self-doubt, I worked nonstop. With few tools and limited money, I found myself in a new place where clients had no idea who I was.
Yet, I never felt defeated. I could see my chocolate dreams in the distance as I worked in restaurants and sold my sweets in the park on Sunday. I grew my social networks and soon built my dream back up again, then the COVID-19 Pandemic arrived. An urgency compelled me to find a way to resurface quickly, so I created virtual pastry classes. I made deliveries and the pace picked up.
As my client base grew, I realized I lacked the room to meet demand. In that moment, I knew my “chocosueño” finally arrived. It felt like my heart would come straight out of my chest. I rented a kitchen then a bigger apartment. Today, I run my chocolate store in Bogotá and dream of even more!
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