Fresno chocolatier offers savory sweets

FRESNO, Calif.

This is a place where success is measured one bite-sized morsel at a time.

World-renown chocolatier Guy Debbas has built up a $7 million a year business in east central Fresno -- satisfying sweet tooth's around the world.

"We have been proving for 25 years that we are the best in the world and we are in Fresno," Guy Debbas said.

Debbas is always creating, always inventing. His office is littered with empty containers and half-eaten samples.

"My office is like my little lab, also, so I get ideas, I call for samples. I taste all day long."

Debbas' most closely guarded secret: chocolate filled with liquid wine. Other tantalizing temptations are everywhere. Chocolate covered cherries and almonds--truffles of all shapes and sizes -- and hazelnut flavored gianduia.

He's moved into healthier offerings -- like all natural fruit bars which are shipped to all 50 states in the U.S.

Debbas' sweet success belies a bitter beginning. While living in his native Lebanon -- members of his family were assassinated by political enemies. He too was shot 22 times.

"I'm not supposed to be here. My first words were Jesus help me."

He explains, "God kept me alive to sweeten the world."

Armed with this life mantra Debbas likes to mix things up.

He takes a hands on approach with his 40 employees. That way, he says, he can enforce quality control. And it's harder than it looks.

Perfection is especially important when debuting a new product called the ancient grain bar. Gluten-free and made with quinoa, flax and oats.

He calls it "healthy indulgence" which he hopes grocery store buyers will snatch up after it debuted at Fresno's recent food expo.

Expo organizers say its unique products and people like Debbas that are attracting more attention to Fresno's food industry.

"They said we want to be surprised. We know about your agriculture, but surprise us with the specialty foods and the ethnic foods," Craig Scharton said. "We can all take pride in these great products that our neighbors' hands are making."

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