Happy Ending Chocolates
Making chocolate was not part of Xenon Mallari’s childhood passion or desires. Growing up, his parents both worked two jobs to get by. His father was an entrepreneur and spent most nights silk screen printing T-shirts in their garage. So, out of necessity, he felt comfortable in the kitchen and was often responsible for preparing family meals.
Growing up in Las Vegas, Xenon’s adolescent dream was to become a professional boxer. Upon graduating high school in 2000, he promised his mother he would finish college before making that leap. While attending UNLV, he joined the boxing team and became the three-time National Collegiate Boxing Association champion. Xenon graduated from UNLV with a bachelor’s degree in business management and represented the USA in the 2004 Olympics. After falling short in the Olympic Trials qualifying tournaments, he embarked on the world of food and beverage. Upon successfully completing the introductory courses with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Cicerone Certification Program, he was hooked.
In 2007, while sitting on his sofa watching the Food Network, Xenon was inspired. He particularly enjoyed Throwdown with Bobby Flay. One episode of that show changed his life, the one in which Bobby challenged master chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt to a chocolate throwdown. Xenon watched as the master chocolatier put Bobby Flay in his place and showed him that chocolate making was a respected craft that took years to master.
“The science, art and precision of chocolate making immediately captured my attention, and I was hooked,” he says.
He picked up every piece of literature he could find on the subject and began learning the art of chocolate making from his own home.
Like many others in Las Vegas, Xenon enjoyed a comfortable career as a bartender with great pay and benefits. With bills to pay and a full-time job, culinary school was not an option. Instead, he would practice tempering and other chocolate techniques for endless hours after work. He often stayed up all night practicing techniques.
Xenon admits that he messed up on a lot of batches of chocolate during the learning process; improperly tempered chocolate, miscalculated ganache formulations and poor technique all contributed. However, he truly enjoyed every minute of it.
“I love chocolate as a medium. Chocolate tells no lies and is honest in every way. Flaws cannot be masked with a sauce or fancy plating. A chocolatier is reprimanded for impatience and rewarded for a calm and zen-like disposition,” he says.
The art of making chocolate was a never-ending journey for Xenon. In 2008, he launched Happy Ending Chocolate and continue to learn and grow with his clients and partners in the community. They often hold tasting events in which Xenon pairs his chocolates with wine and beer. Xenon is always at those events listening carefully to those who attend, seeking opinions and suggestions for growth. Xenon remains highly involved with the growing list of retail partners. His chocolate journey has led him to take several cacao origin trips.
“I have visited cacao farms in Peru, Nicaragua and the Philippines. My father and I plan on planting trees on our farm in the Philippines in March. 2019 and the years to follow look promising for Happy Ending Chocolate as we seek to move into a new commercial kitchen, expand our wholesale retail partners and possibly open our very own retail storefront. The possibilities are endless.”