Eclipse founder wins Food Network chocolate battle


Life is already pretty sweet for Eclipse Chocolate founder and chef Will Gustwiller. But now he’s tasting victory after winning a special chocolate episode of Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

The victory, which earned Gustwiller a $16,000 prize, will be celebrated at the South Park chocolate emporium on Saturday night. Viewing parties at the shop and bistro will be held at 5 and 8 p.m., along with $40 multi-course tastings of sweet and savory dishes the chocolate maker prepared on the show, which was entitled “Guy’s Chocolate Games.”

The episode, which was filmed in November in Santa Rosa, aired Sunday. In it, he competed against fellow San Diegan Steven Oliver, a personal chef, and two other chefs. Gustwiller knocked Oliver out of the final of three rounds with his porterhouse steak with cocoa balsamic sauce, cocoa nib pasta and asparagus. In round one, using ingredients from a classic German chocolate cake, he concocted a cacao- glazed pork tenderloin and Chinese long beans with coconut and pecans. In the next challenge, his decadent-dessert-on-a-budget dish was s’mores with frozen blackberries and spiced drinking chocolate.

“I have been making savory chocolate dishes for years. Eclipse Chocolate hosted more than 70 pop-up menus even before we opened the South Park location of our restaurant,” Gustwiller said Monday. “I have made hundreds of unique dishes with cacao. The show throws a lot of curve balls, but I knocked them out of the park.”

The popular “Guy’s Grocery Games,” hosted by Guy Fieri, has strong San Diego ties - regular judges include chefs and TV personalities Melissa D’Arabian (Coronado), Richard Blais (Del Mar) and Troy Johnson, the San Diego Magazine restaurant writer who was on the panel for “Guy’s Chocolate Games.”

Eclipse is at 2145 Fern St., South Park. (619) 578-2984 or Reservations are required for Saturday’s event.