Blokes trying something different
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.