Chocolate Dreams at Noosa Chocolate Factory

Image source: Photographer Peter Wallis

Matt Golinski discovers the place of his dreams – a magical chocolate shop full of wonder, flavour and history, right here in our own backyard.

I remember being a little boy the first time I watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I could practically smell those sweet rivers of molten cocoa and taste all the changing flavours of that Everlasting Gobstopper – and I desperately wanted to be the one getting my hands on that Wonka Bar with the Golden Ticket inside.

It was mini chef Matt’s sweet fantasy world, full of colour and theatre and quirky humour, but it contained important messages of fairness and honesty – and that greed could see you stuck in a large glass tube! I’ve seen it dozens of times over the years, and I still get that cinematic sugar rush every time.

So, when I pulled into the carpark of the Noosa Chocolate Factory in Venture Drive, Noosaville and the big glass doors opened, I realised I no longer needed to long for that Golden Ticket to enter a world of pure imagination and chocolate craftsmanship.

Shelves stacked with glistening chocolates of all shapes, sizes and colours overwhelm your senses the moment you step through the entrance, each section you pass by as exciting as the last. Macadamias, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and ginger, honeycomb, brittles, Turkish delight and marshmallow.  All the very best quality of everything made on site, and all mixed with or coated in the finest couverture and packaged into pouches of treasure.

The aromas wafting out from the coffee machine in the corner as you drift blissfully around the room make it almost impossible to leave without sitting for a while and sampling some of your treats over a brew. From a viewing area you can witness the magic happening – not by Oompa Loompas, but by very busy and focussed chocolatiers who work skilfully and with precision timing – melting, mixing, spreading and cutting, desperately trying to keep ahead of the huge demand they have created for their products through the amazing quality of their work.

It may be fast paced and stressful, but they all seem so happy, the couple sitting wrapping mountains of confectionery studded chocolate blocks; the girls bagging, weighing and labelling the panned chocolates; even the lady responsible for keeping up with the literally thousands of hampers required by the factory’s five outlets every week. The fact that they work all day in a cloud of pure delicious sweetness at a constant 19 degrees might have something to do with their smiles but being a part of something that brings so much joy to others must surely add to the level of job satisfaction. Having their very own Willy Wonka at the helm probably helps too.

Pam and Gordon Thomson opened Noosa Chocolate Factory in 2009 in a small kitchen a stones-throw from the behemoth new factory. From humble beginnings, Pam has retained ownership to today – employing 68 staff and stocking two outlets in Brisbane City and one at the Sunshine Plaza. It’s not surprising that the business has been a success; after all, chocolate and confectionery was very much in Gordon’s DNA.

Anyone who has ever shoved a set of lolly Teeth over their own to make themselves look silly or survived a long road trip by demolishing bags of Snakes has Gordon’s father Charles to thank. Charlie’ worked in various chocolate factories in England until serving in the second world war, and at 22 was captured in Singapore and worked alongside Aussie soldiers as a prisoner of war on the Thai-Burma railway. 

After the war his connection to Australia prompted him to move to Melbourne where he took on a job as factory manager at Allen’s and was responsible for creating many of our iconic Australian sweets that still exist. His son Gordon’s artisanal approach to what he does means he and the Noosa Chocolate Factory team aren’t looking to conquer the world – with roughly three tonnes of chocolate a week walking out the door they are already close to full capacity in the space they have. And they want to make sure that the things they are remembered for are a commitment to quality, pride in their craftmanship and the service to match.

Visiting Noosa Chocolate Factory is something special, a chance for you to choose all the treats you’ve always wanted. And don’t forget what happened to the person who suddenly got everything they always wanted.

They lived happily ever after.

About the Author /

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Matt Golinski is a highly regarded chef with a passion for simple, produce-driven cuisine based on seasonal, fresh local ingredients. He is an active member of the Slow Food movement, a champion of artisan producers and a generous mentor to keen young chefs. He is the Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador for the Gympie region; Ambassador and Advisory Executive Chef for Peppers Noosa; and a festival favourite.

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