Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Victoria’s Willy Wonka and the OMY ‘Blogga Loompas’
Ahhh – to be a kid again! These days when I think about chocolates, I immediately think of the weight that I’ve worked so hard to lose by dieting. Then, if the chocolates are there in front of me – all slimming thoughts are lost. Anyway – I learned from Panny that there are many reasons in favour of why one should eat chocolate – you will find a list of the Top 10 below!!
The day that we met with Victoria’s Willy Wonka (aka Panny of the Phillip Island ‘Amazing World of Chocolate’), I was transported in time and space – in my mind, my name changed from ‘Pete’ to ‘Charlie’ and I was searching my pockets for an elusive Golden Ticket.
Panny is what is known as a “chocolatier“ – and he is one passionate guy when it comes to these delicacies. As you begin your journey of the factory, you need to remind yourself that absolutely everything you see is made of chocolate – whether it’s the art pieces, such as Michelangelo’s ‘David’, a mural of Dame Edna Everage covering an entire wall, almost a half a tonne of chocolate forming a railway village or just the framed pictures scattered around, such as the infamous bush-ranger, Ned Kelly and even a full map of the world. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!!!
Panny himself, seems to have a never-ending supply of various chocolates on his person, which just keep appearing out of nowhere – and disappear just as quickly down my throat :S
The tour began with an educational room where the OMY ‘Blogga Loompas’ learned all about where chocolate comes from (cocoa beans), how the beans are prepared, what ingredients are added and the entire life cycle – the front-to-back end process from the tree to the chocolate bar.
As we continued through the factory, past the fine art pieces, the games began – unique games of skill and chance where every success is rewarded with – yes, you guessed it – chocolate!
This was actually quite an interesting part of the tour – you see, as someone who ‘hates to lose’ (refer my article about the Phillip Island Go-Karting experience), I was not able to walk away from any of the games without winning… it was an addiction sort of like the ‘Angry Birds’ version of sweetness. And I didn’t actually need to win – I just had to turn to Panny, and he was feeding me more of his magically appearing bites.
At one point I pivoted as something caught the corner of my eye – this was no Hollywood special effect – right there in front of me, was the world’s largest chocolate waterfall – a huge 400kgs of chocolate flowing every 3 minutes!!! WHOA!! Disappointedly, I was not allowed to reach my reclined head in and let it pour into my mouth. This was actually quite lucky, because I didn’t want to fail the test and lose the chance of one day maybe running the factory (another reference to Charlie).
Next, we got to see Panny’s team in action – creating chocolates for what I guess would be a very large consumer market. Also in this room, besides more chocolate sculptures, there were some very unique machines. Firstly, a machine that allows you to create your own design with flowing chocolate within 4 seconds. I created my initials – then while I was waiting for my masterpiece to work its way down the drying / hardening belt, I turned away to watch Panny’s chocolatiers at work – I turned back, only to find that Eric had already eaten half of my initials… wait on – Eric – it was “PB” not “EL”!!
Not to worry, I just turned back to Panny for his ‘appearing chocolate’ magic trick again – satisfied, I continued over to the ‘Amazing Chocolate Machine’. Valyn was already hard at work selecting flavours which I had never before imagined were possible. I think her final choice, was Cola and Wasabi. Very interesting! I was waiting for one of my fellow ‘Blogga Oompas’ to suggest that Panny might want to consider adding Durian as a flavor selection in the future :)
To round off the adventure – and they had to drag me kicking and screaming, let me tell you – we ended up in the shop (factory direct outlet), where more than 190 different treats are available for sale. Along with a goodie bag provided by Panny, I purchased some chocolate-covered honey comb to take home to the family in Singapore. Luckily for the boys, I packed this in my check-in luggage (or else I don’t think it would have survived if it was in my carry-on – it would have been consumed somewhere high in the sky over central Australia, without a doubt).
As well as all of the chocolate than you can dream of, also available in the factory direct outlet, are other delectables such as a choc-dipped bananas, rocky road, ginger and honey.
If you’ve not had your fill by the end of the tour, visitors can also grab a bite at Pannys café – which sells amazing meals, drinks and snacks - all with a chocolate theme, of course.
According to Panny’s Website:
“The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is climate controlled for comfort, so visitors love returning to Pannys year round regardless of what the weather is doing. A massive renovation has just been completed, both inside and out, making The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory a must see on a visit Phillip island. Panny and his team invite you to spend a few hours exploring the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory”
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10 Good Reasons Why You Should Eat Chocolate
1. It’s a vegetable! Chocolate is made from cocoa beans and sugar cane which are both vegetables. It must be healthy.
2. Milk Chocolate contains a dairy food so it has the calcium you need to keep bones strong and healthy.
3. It’s readily available, it’s fresh and has no preservatives.
4. You can get a whole day’s calories in one handy package.
5. No one will ever guess you are on a diet.
6. You can add to your daily fruit consumption with chocolate coated strawberries and bananas.
7. If you eat it before a meal it’ll reduce your appetite. (surely your mother taught you that one)
8. If you eat it after your meal you don’t need to eat the cheesecake and the icecream.
9. It can help as part of a balanced diet - equal amounts of fat and sugar, and one sensible reason.
10. If you love chocolate, banning it completely can make you feel deprived - allowing yourself a piece of quality chocolate now and again can make all the difference between sticking to your diet and binging uncontrollably.
Entry to the cafe and retail shop is free of charge!
Admission Prices to Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate:
Family pricing is for 2 adults and 2 children
Children under four are admitted free
You should allow at least 45 minutes really enjoy your visit.
Pannys also has group discounts available, and resources for school groups are available to download from the website.
The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory is open 7 days a week from 9:00am except for Christmas Day.
Panny’s retail store closes at 5pm in Winter and 6pm during Eastern Daylight Savings (October to March).
Please note: during Summer, last entry to Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate is at 5:30pm and the cafe closes at 5:00pm
930 Phillip Island Rd
Newhaven VIC 3925
Phone: 03 5956 6600
Fax: 03 5956 7697