Meet Chennai’s Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory as city-based Cheers Chocolates launches its first store

SSS Keshav Krishna, founder of Cheers Chocolates, at a workshop

Cheers Chocolates’ newly launched outlet is like a Lego store, but for chocolates. It is a riot of colour with red, yellow, blue, green chocolates and dragees lined up against the glass counter.

As the kitchen door opens, the rich aroma of tempered chocolate wafts out. Inside, the team fuses different confectionary components to create a finished product. There are chocolate cigars filled with hazelnut, gianduja and coffee , a bright red stiletto (very The Devil Wears Prada), a snowman, a bottle of wine… all edible. 

“Chocolate making requires specific skill, temperature, the right moulds and equipment,” says SSS Keshav Krishna, who launched Cheers Chocolate in 2012. The process of creating brings joy, he believes, and this is something he now wants to share with his clients and chocolate lovers. Clients walking in can try their hand at chocolate making in a short 15-minute session. They get to make their own fillings, and add sprinkles ,” says Keshav.

In addition, the outlet also has a dedicated space for basic, intermediate, and advanced workshops. These are around three-hours long, and cover a gamut of topics right from tempering and moulding chocolate, the difference between couverture and compound, to creating innovative recipes. .

At Cheers, they make 20 varieties of fillings which include spiced pumpkin latte, tiramisu, wasabi ganache with raspberry, banana peanut praline, apricot honey ganache and mango passion fruit. They also do hot chocolate bombs and powder. Keshav says he waited 12 years to open a store because he felt the city was not ready for the unusual flavour combinations he was creating.

The brand started off with catering to corporates with customised gifting, and started retailing online in 2017. During the pandemic, Keshav noticed a spike in orders from around the city and from Tirunelveli, Dindigul, and Salem . “The clientele was mostly Gen Z. They are open to new flavours and taste profiles, and I knew it was time to set up a store,” says Keshav, adding that he is soon going to re-introduce a red capsicum jelly filling.

Also a cricketer, Keshav has played in the TNPL for Ruby Trichy Warriors. He now wants to make sports performance bars and protein bars. “We are planning to launch bean to bar chocolates. These pods are from Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh and we are looking at pods from all over India,” he says, pointing to a large basket of cocoa pods at the store. For now, he procures raw material from Belgium which comes in the form of callets and bars. These are then melted, tempered and moulded here. “We also have sugar free bars and get 60% dark chocolate from Colombia,” adds the 35 year old.

Keshav graduated from SRM University with a degree in Hotel Management, trained in food production at Taj Coromandel, followed by a stint at Callebaut Academy in Mumbai. “I also learnt on my own, through days of trial and error. Then I did short courses in Paris, Malaysia, Dubai…” he says. Keshav says he is a first generation entrepreneur in the family, who found his passion in the kitchen, in a world of flavours and vibrant chocolates.

Cheers Chocolates is located at Shenoy Nagar. A box is priced at ₹990 for 12 chocolates.

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