Chocolate on Gelato Dessert

Tifa is family-owned and run from top to bottom. Brother and sister Shawn and Candace work hard with their respective teams to craft all of the products we make while parents Denise and Mike handle many of the business executive and operations aspects.

Our love for sweet treats and passion for putting a smile on people’s faces turned a family dream into a reality when we started Tifa, named after a beloved uncle, in 2007. Beginning with retail online international chocolate tasting kits, we evolved to open our first dessert café the following year and never looked back. Since then, Tifa has added gelato, pastries and our own custom chocolates and expanded into several key markets in Southern California and Charlotte, NC. We may be looking to come to your community next!

Our goal at Tifa is to make each visit an experience for our customers and team members alike. Like our homemade recipes, each of our dessert cafés has its very own personality—unique to each location’s community. With hand-picked chairs and tables, old Americana industrial décor, delicious and refreshing treats and board games, it feels like you’re entering a warm, welcoming home every time you step inside.

At Tifa, you’ll notice that providing the customer with a memorable experience is always our top priority. That’s why we put so much thought and care in each of our recipes, from conception to the finished product. We also take our customer’s opinions—whether it’s praise or constructive feedback—very seriously.

Tifa is a family-run business from top to bottom! With husband and wife Mike Ashamalla and Denise Orr running the back-end of operations, daughter and head chef Candace Orr creating all the recipes and son Shawn Orr handling the customer service and franchising side, Tifa was truly built from the ground up on strong family values.

Michael Ashamalla: Chief Executive Officer

Mike has served as our Chief Executive Officer since the formation of our company and also Chief Executive Officer of our affiliate Tifa, Inc. located in Agoura Hills, California, since its formation on March 7, 2007. Mike is also the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Moss Corps an online insurance agency with a presence in 20+ states. Prior to joining Moss, Mike served as Vice President of IT Operations at Warner Pacific in Westlake Village, California, where he has worked as a consultant, then an employee, from 2008 to 2019. From 2005 to 2007, Mike was the Chief Technology Officer of Insurance Neighborhood, which was a spin-off of WellPoint/Anthem, where Mike was a staff VP for the prior two years. For each company, Mike has been instrumental in developing core technology to support multiple insurance distribution channels and building first-class technology teams.

Mike is an avid fisherman and loves nothing better than chasing (not always catching, though) yellowtail and white sea bass out at the Channel Islands off the coast of California. Much of Mike’s time on the water is spent with Shawn, Candace and Shawn’s children (Mike’s grandchildren). Mike also loves wine tasting and spends way too much time pairing wine with gourmet artisan chocolate under the guise of “market research.”

Denise Orr

Denise Orr: Chief Financial Officer

Denise Orr has served as the company’s CFO since its formation. Before joining the company, she worked (2008-2016) as CFO for our affiliate, Tifa, Inc. She manages all operations for Tifa and oversees all aspects of customer service and customer experience. Prior to becoming our CFO, Denise worked for WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross of California in Newbury Park, California, from 2007 to 2008 in Direct Sales. Prior to working for WellPoint/Anthem, Denise spent more than 20 years as a legal assistant in maritime law. 

Denise loves two things above all else in life: animals and expressing love through food. Usually, this involves hand-prepared meals for the dogs who often eat better than the people in the house. Denise is the heart and soul of the Tifa experience. She is the reason why walking into every Tifa feels like a warm embrace…and the reason every Tifa has a dog bowl outside.

Shawn Orr: Director of Franchise Development

Shawn Orr has been our Director of Franchise Development since the company was formed. He has also worked for Tifa, Inc. in Agoura Hills since 2008 as the Chief Chocolatier and Front-of-the-House Manager. A self-taught chocolatier, Shawn pioneered Tifa’s unique signature chocolates like the Bleu Cheese & Honey bonbon. He has taught adult education classes in chocolate making and regularly hosts private events.

With two small children, Shawn and his wife, Holly, walk a tightrope when it comes to work-life balance. Sometimes the lines blur a bit…as in when he taught his daughter to pull espresso shots at age 2. Tifa, after all, is all about family, so nothing could be more natural. Shawn is also an avid fisherman and an avid surfer. When he’s not at Tifa or watching the kids, you can often find him out on or in the water.

Candace Orr: Executive Chef

Candace has been our Executive Chef since the company’s formation and also as the head chef, Chief Creative Designer and Back-of-the-House Manager of Tifa, Inc. in Agoura Hills since 2008. She is a Pastry and Baking graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, California, and uses her skills to develop Tifa’s unique gelato and pastry recipes. Candace is also the designer of the Tifa interior look.

Candace’s creativity knows no bounds. When she’s not designing interiors or creating recipes for Tifa, she’s crafting a new look for her own home. Anyone that spends any time in her home knows to avoid ever doing so in the dark as she moves the furniture almost daily. Candace gets her love for animals and for expressing love through food from her mom, Denise. Her “small child” is a Dachshund rescue named George and he’s more of a handful than Shawn’s children will ever be. Candace also loves trying new and edgy restaurants…and often finds inspiration for new chocolate or gelato flavors while there.