Destination chocolate

From a chocolate obsession to a full-time career, becoming a chocolatier has been a sweet and successful journey for Weston’s Donna Archer.

Many people describe themselves as chocolate lovers. But in the past decade or so, Donna Archer admits her interest in one particular sweet treat became somewhat of an obsession, which evolved into a passion and eventually opened up a whole new career. The journey from business development manager to full-time chocolatier began with a single taste of what Donna believed was the ultimate raspberry-centred chocolate. It was the perfect combination of fresh, ripe fruit and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate, with a delicate, flavoursome balance that she just couldn’t get out of her head.

When she returned for a second taste during her next trip to Victoria she was disappointed to find that the shop was no longer there, and from that point she began what was a long and ultimately fruitless search for another chocolate that could live up to the memory. A visit to the Blue Mountains town of Leura, home to the renowned fine chocolate shop Josophan’s, saw Donna shift her interest from tasting chocolates to making them.

After completing a short course at Josophan’s, the owner pointed Donna in the direction of Savour, a chocolate and patisserie school in Melbourne where she could continue her chocolate-coated education. For the next three years Donna used her annual leave to pop down to Savour and complete a block of training, each time returning with more skills and an ever-increasing collection of chocolate moulds. She spent two years experimenting with different flavours, trying them out on family, friends and acquaintances before beginning to make and sell small orders.

During this time Donna also put her original chocolate quest to bed by creating her own version of the raspberry-centred chocolate, using the fresh fruit puree she had been craving. But her tastebuds weren’t the only ones impressed by the handcrafted creation, with the Raspberry Heart soon becoming Donna’s most requested chocolate. Further down the track the chocolate would also impress the best in the business, picking up gold medals at the 2017 Sydney Royal Easter Show and the Australian Fine Food Awards. The real turning point for Donna and her son Paul, who was heavily involved in the design and business side of the venture, proved to be taking up a stall in 2015 at Maitland’s popular Aroma Festival, which celebrates coffee and chocolate in all its forms. After fielding constant questions about when they were going to open up a permanent store, Donna began to realise the demand was there that could help them turn what had been a sideline hobby, into a full-time gig.

Fast forward 12 months and Donarch Fine Chocolates officially opened its doors to the public in a neighbourhood shopping centre in Tenambit 

Donarch Fine Chocolate, 49 Maize Street, Tenambit,
Trading Hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 5:30pm, Saturday 9am – 2pm, Sunday 10am – 2pm 

Words by Michelle Meehan, photography courtesy of Donarch Fine Chocolate

Read more in the Autumn issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.