Blokes try­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent

Coastal News - - News - By ALI­SON SMITH

Whanga­mata¯ Men­zshed vol­un­teers are learn­ing a new craft from the master of a ma­te­rial un­like any­thing they’ve worked with be­fore — choco­late.

At a ses­sion dur­ing Oc­to­ber, the mem­bers will be adding a new string to their bow when it comes to their abil­ity to fix, make and cre­ate, when they have a go at mould­ing, tem­per­ing and other choco­late mak­ing tech­niques from fel­low mem­ber and choco­latier ex­traor­di­naire, Pat Dono­van.

Pat re­tired to Whanga­mata¯ af­ter 45 years mak­ing sweets and choco­late. He is the founder of Dono­van’s Choco­lates, which he built up into a mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar busi­ness that op­er­ated from a 1850sq m fac­tory in Hamil­ton.

The com­pany’s mantra of com­bin­ing the finest qual­ity in­gre­di­ents with Euro­pean tech­nol­ogy and a good dash of Kiwi in­ge­nu­ity to de­liver “the most di­vine choco­late ex­pe­ri­ence” is Pat’s legacy.

“I’ve al­ways been in­sis­tent on get­ting the qual­ity up,” he says.

“There’s enough disappointments for peo­ple with­out hav­ing some­thing that tastes like axle grease when you buy choco­late.”

The idea of the event came about as a sug­gested fundraiser, but with the cal­i­bre of its tu­tor and lim­i­ta­tions on num­bers, the Men­zshed is not look­ing for any pub­lic­ity to get peo­ple sign­ing up. In­stead, the ses­sion is lim­ited to 30 lucky mem­bers — and these golden ticket hold­ers will get to taste, ob­serve and craft treats of their own us­ing finest in­gre­di­ents un­der Pat’s tute­lage.

“I was go­ing to show them some up­mar­ket stuff,” says Pat. “I’ll give them a talk on choco­late, the ori­gins of choco­late and I’ll pre-make some choco­lates here to give out. I’ll show them shell mould­ing and how to get soft cen­tres into choco­late and how to hand tem­per.

“You re­ally have to fol­low some very strict rules, and it’s about un­der­stand­ing the molec­u­lar struc­ture of choco­late.”

There is no short­age of tak­ers.

“We’ve got plenty of mem­bers want­ing to come and we can only ac­com­mo­date up to 30 for the ses­sion,” says Dave Ryan, chair­man of the group.

The group are cur­rently work­ing on stands for the Opera So­ci­ety, props for the Cal­en­dar Girls show later in the year, memo­rial ta­bles for peo­ple, a toy­box for the RSA, and have made An­zac crosses for Re­mem­brance Day as well as traps for catch­ing rats and stoats.

“We’re very lucky that the peo­ple we’ve got have a wide range of skills and are keen to help the com­mu­nity, and it’s def­i­nitely a com­mu­nity worth help­ing,” says Dave.

“Our fu­ture in­ten­tion is to help young peo­ple get into ap­pren­tice­ships,” says Dave.

“Some peo­ple only come down to have a cof­fee and a chat, while oth­ers come to make things.

“We’ve got guys build­ing a worm farm and an­other do­ing wood carv­ing here at the mo­ment.”

‘We’re very lucky that the peo­ple we’ve got have a wide range of skills and are keen to help the com­mu­nity, and it’s def­i­nitely a com­mu­nity worth help­ing.

DAVE RYAN Chair­man of Whanga­mata¯ Men­zshed

Pat Dono­van is at home in the kitchen with his tools of the trade.

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