Debi and I visited the TCHO (pronounce “Cho” with a long ‘o’ — sounds like “show”) chocolate factory in San Francisco. The TCHO facility is built on a pier (Pier 17) jutting into the San Francisco Bay, not far from Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, offering residents and visitors alike yet another San Francisco food tour opportunity. It’s a good one, too!
TCHO joins a long lineage of chocolatiers and chocolate makers in San Francisco, the best known one being Ghirardelli. There are others, and there’s a difference between chocolate makers (who create the chocolate from the raw cacao beans) and chocolatiers (who use chocolate to make fancy confections and other chocolate-based products).
See’s Candies is a chocolatier. TCHO is a chocolate maker.
The tour starts with a short talk by one of the guides. They talk about how chocolate is made and how the different flavors are created, along with a brief history. Then you don hairnets and booties to walk through the factory, which is actually quite small — only about 50 feet x 200 feet or so. Industrial kitchen equipment, vats and ovens process all the raw ingredients, which end up as wrapped bars of chocolate.
The best part of the tour comes with the free samples. The chocolate sure is good! If you like it, you can stop at the on-site store near the entrance. It’s sort of like a gift shop for your tongue!
Here’s a series of three videos that give you the entire background:
Click the following links to learn more about the TCHO chocolate factory tour, about Ghirardelli and other San Francisco chocolate makers and shops and/or the San Francisco Bay Area chocolate festivals and other events.