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Nina's chocolates
Nina's chocolates
Max Brenner
Planet Cake

Sweet temptation

Saturday, August 14, 2004
If you have a sweet tooth and your heart beats to the sound of chocolate, sugar and cream then we have found your dream café!

Nina’s Chocolates

George Magganas left Greece with his parents to live in Egypt then came to Australia when he was 8. He started Nina’s Chocolates in December 1995 after being made redundant from his position as a food technologist at Unilever. Having a chocolate shop was going to be his hobby when he retired at 60… but things don’t always go to plan! George now employs 10 full-time and 6 part-time staff. The business is named after his 2 daughter’s Nicole & Natalie.

Nina’s Chocolates produces award winning hand made chocolates. They get my thumbs up! George is always after that “WOW” factor, which he certainly got from everyone in this cottage!! A sweet sensation one must experience… definitely an orgasmic extravaganza for the mouth!

Chocolates are supplied to Myers, some specialty chocolate shops and major catering venues all over Australia. Ingredients came from France, Germany, but primarily Belgium. Things like milk and butter come locally.

The better the chocolate the higher content of cocoa butter – usually around 60%. Blocks sold in the supermarket are around 15%. The complete chocolate making process is on display in the workshop-cum-shopfront in Gymea.

George and his chocolate team create about 150 mouth-watering varieties, of all different designs, shapes, colours and textures! Range includes: fresh cream truffles, pralines, liqueurs, soft fondant centres, fudge, caramels and nut clusters just to name a few!

Max Brenner

Manly shop has seating for 40, with a beautiful view over the wharf, opened 3 ½ years ago. A very busy, action station chocolate/coffee bar, with frequent traffic due to the ferry arrivals and departures.

The morning & afternoon of every weekday is what the staff call the “coffee rush”. It’s all hands on deck for the 4 staff.

Max Brenner offers 5 different hot chocolate powders - a dark and milk from Venezuela, white from Trinidad, a blend with orange peel and another blend with orchid oil.

Other chocolate treats on the menu are warm perfumed Belgian chocolates, Lick (dish of melted chocolate to lick), fresh strawberries for dipping into dish of melted chocolate, chocolate soufflé and a range of 24 pralines.

Ian Thorpe is a regular visitor to Manly Wharf and the Paddington chocolate bar, also Baz Luhrman and Anastasia and the most popular drinks are Hug and Suckao.

Hug: is in a cup shaped like a cocoa bean designed for drinking hot chocolate beverages. By hugging the cup with the hands one can drink through the narrow side of the cup which is the top of the cocoa bean.

Suckao: is a compound of the words “suck” and “cocoa.” This is a special cup designed for drinking hot chocolate drinks with a smooth and thick texture. The candle beneath the vessel is lit. Warm milk is placed in the cup and chocolate shavings are mixed into it. It is drunk through a straw which also serves as a stirring spoon. $5.50.

The latest store to open was in Double Bay (15 Knox Street, opposite the Cosmopolitan) in December 2002. It’s open 8am-midnight 7 days a week and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as the huge array of chocolates!

Other Max Brenner chocolate bars are:

Paddington (opened May 2000) 774 Oxford Street. Phone 9357 6424 Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 11am-6pm.

Chatswood (opened 2001) Level 1, Shop 135, Chatswood Chase, 345 Victoria Avenue. Phone 9411 6962 Monday-Friday 9.30am-5.30pm, Thursday till 9pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm.

Erina Fair (opened December 2003) Shop 5, Erina Fair Drive, Erina (on lower level, close to the library by the escalators) Phone 4367 4877 Monday-Wednesday 9am-5.30pm, Thursday till 9pm, Friday & Saturday till 10pm, Sunday 10am-5pm.

Planet Cake

It all began back in 1996 in Balmain when one of Australia's leading cake decorator companies began making regular features in publications such as Bride to Be, Cosmopolitan Bride, Real Weddings, Modern Wedding Cake magazine, Good Living and New Idea. Also on television.

The cakes are decorated in a small studio kitchen in Balmain; the actual cake base is made in Marrickville. There are about 15 cakes on display in Balmain and are carefully crafted cakes for all celebrations, anniversaries, christenings, birthdays, weddings naturally and also corporate specialities.

Jean-Michel – head of production, is one of Planet Cakes master cake decorators. Faye Cahill is another, and Margaret is part time. Jean-Michel is originally from Marseille in France. He has been with Planet Cake for 1 year and is one of Australia’s most accomplished and skilled couture cake decorators. He was an apprentice with one of France’s most celebrated chef’s Robert Schcci, at that time he won several medals for sugar pulling and chocolate carving as well as winning “Best Apprentice” for the South of France and coming 3rd nationally. After arriving in Australia he has won 3 years running, a gold medal at the International Catering Fair for Cake Decorating & Sugar Pulling.

Approximately 90% of the cost of a cake is artwork and not the filling. Hours of time goes into the creation of the cakes, its more like an eatable artwork! There are many ways to create a cake; 3D, relief, painting, airbrush.

Planet Cake publishes a bi-monthly newsletter. It covers the most interesting and unique cakes that they have created in the last 2 months and reveal the stories behind them.

Every cake that is made tells a story, whether traditional or outrageous, the personalities and unique celebration of the people involved is reflected.

Planet Cake for the first time this year offered cake decorating classes to the public. These were held over July/August (quietest time). There were 2 different courses.


Nina’s Chocolates
6 different size prepacked boxes of chocolates range from $16.95 to $69.95
Individual chocolates at the counter $7.40/100g

Max Brenner
Hug $4, Suckao $5.50
Hot Chocolate $4.40, Waffles $3.50
Chocolate Pralines are sold in boxes of 9 for $18, 18 for $34 and 36 for $60 or $1.80 each.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

Nina’s Chocolates
27 Gymea Bay Road, Gymea NSW 2227
Phone: 9526 6770
Fax: 9526 6880
Monday-Friday 9am-5.30pm. Saturday 9am-4pm

Max Brenner
Manly Wharf, Shop 11, East Esplanade, Manly 2095
Phone: 9977 4931
Monday-Friday 7am-6.15pm. Saturday & Sunday 8.30am-6.3pm

Planet Cake
17 Rowntree Street Balmain NSW 2041
Phone: 9810 3843
Fax: 9810 9134
Cakes start from $100 and have been known to reach into the thousands of dollars!
Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-5pm

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