s
Journal
Through the Eyes of Brodie, Emily & Harry

TWENTY YEARS AGO, CLAYTON AND MARY BENNETT PACKED UP THEIR LIFE IN DUBLIN AND THEIR THREE YOUNG CHILDREN (AGED JUST NINE, SEVEN AND FIVE YEARS OLD) TO FOLLOW A DREAM TO SET UP A CHOCOLATE FACTORY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, IN THE SLEEPY HOLIDAY BEACHSIDE TOWNSHIP OF MANGAWHAI.

Today their kids are all grown up and are taking over the reins of this family-run chocolate factory to continue their parents’ dream.

 “My Mum was a nurse in Dublin and Dad was a Kiwi boy from Ruawai. They met and were living in Ireland when they had us kids,” says Emily Bennett, the middle sibling. “As kids, we would travel from Ireland and spend our family holidays in Mangawhai because it was close to the area that dad grew up,” she says.

 “Mum and Dad always had a vision to come back to set up a cottage industry, and they knew Mangawhai was the place to do it.”

 So that’s exactly what they did. They settled on chocolate and before coming out to New Zealand, they did their groundwork, learning how to make chocolates in France and Belgium.

 They shipped the whole family back to Mangawhai and set up shop, taking inspiration from their new, quintessentially Kiwi, beachside home. The pipi shell chocolates from Bennetts have become an iconic feature of the range and they were the first chocolatiers in New Zealand to create feijoa-inspired chocolates. They also took salt from the Mangawhai harbour and harvested it in the factory to create the current best seller, Mangawhai Seasalt chocolate. Clayton and Mary did all the chocolate making themselves in the early days, out the back of their home, in a garage converted into a chocolate factory.

 Ten years later, the Bennetts outgrew their garage, and began the project of creating a new factory in a French Provence-inspired oasis in the heart of Mangawhai village. The project was Mary’s vision. “Most architects at the time thought Mum was a bit crazy to build in this style in Mangawhai.” It has become a destination for the local community, the holiday crowds in summer and, for travellers heading north, it’s a must-see tourist stop.

 All of this was going on while the couple were raising their young family. You could assume the kids were destined to take on the family business. But their parents never put that pressure on them; they were encouraged to explore the globe and make their own path. So, Emily set off to Italy to learn how to make shoes, Harry travelled the world working in hospitality and Brodie worked his way cheffing around the world. Eventually, all in their own time, they arrived home and now they’ve found their way back to the business to take on the next chapter in the Bennetts of Mangawhai story.

 Emily is the general manager of the chocolate factory, Harry has taken the role of head of the café and Brodie delivers a menu of seasonal deliciousness as head chef. Remi Le Levier, chief chocolatier, has been with Bennetts since 2002 as a young 20-year-old recruit from his native Paris. The team is complete with helping hands from 40 local workers.

 “Our parents instilled in us that business is not all about making money but doing something worthwhile with your life,” Emily says. “We have created a destination that people can come to and enjoy, [it’s] something our family will always be proud of.”

Farro has been selling the Bennetts’ chocolates since we opened our second store in Constellation Drive in 2010, and we’re delighted to still be bringing this family-first handmade range of exceptional chocolates to you.

Colours of Mangawhai

 

 

 We consider ourselves so lucky to live and work in such a beautiful part of the country and where we are plays a huge role in what we do and how we do it.

 

So, it’s not surprising that when our 60g chocolate bars were due for a facelift that we turned to our environment for inspiration. We are frequent beach walkers and the ocean offers so many beautiful shades and colours. We’ve selected a range of colours, inspired by our beach, from the dark and stormy winter clouds for our dark chocolate, to the calm blue sky reflected in the ocean of a clear spring day on the blueberry chocolate bar, we’ve got the colours of Mangawhai well-represented.

The new look bars are in stores now and will soon be joined by 2 exciting new flavours, Caramel and Olive Oil. We’ve teamed up with a local company, Lola’s Olive Oil, to produce one of the most delicious chocolate bars around. This is a dark chocolate bar made with a perfect infusion of Lola’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil and it’s ridiculously creamy and smooth. It simply melts in your mouth.

 We hope you will come visit our shop and Cafe soon and experience the colours of Mangawhai for yourself.

 

A delicious local liaison

We like trying new things. We are always looking for new and interesting flavour  combinations but we still love the classics. I think everyone would agree, nuts and chocolate were basically made for each other, everyone loves a good chocolate caramel and chili is so perfect in a hot chocolate.

This month we’ve been refining a classic combination for you. A partnership that has been loved for a long time, but we think we’ve perfected it, and to do so we’ve formed a new partnership too.

We’re excited to launch our new Bennetts Rush Espresso chocolate bar. That’s right, coffee and chocolate. Heaven!

Mangawhai, our landscape, people, flora and fauna, constantly inspires us. We have many talented local artisans and the team at Rush Coffee have been longtime friends and favourites of ours. So, we thought, let’s get together and make something truly awesome.

I won’t kid you, it’s been tough. We’ve tried a range of coffee beans, in a mix of chocolate, with different grinds, in different bar shapes and sizes. All that chocolate and coffee, poor us!

The outcome of our toil is a delightful little bar that combines the best dark Belgium
couverture with the highest quality Colombian coffee beans. This bar is impeccably balanced with just the right kick of coffee and creamy melt-in- your-mouth chocolate.

These little numbers are ideal to keep in your purse or top drawer at work for an afternoon indulgence that won’t break the bank or spoil your dinner.

The march of the marshmallowists

If you haven’t tried our marshmallow, you haven’t lived. We’ve been perfecting these soft, fluffy, pillows of joy for ten years now. These aren’t like the circular treats you jammed into the ashes of a campfire when you were a kid. Our marshmallows are grown up and a little puff of heaven in each bite.


These bundles of happiness have been on the Bennetts menu for a long time now but we have recently given them a little face-lift. Don’t panic, they still come in chocolate, lemon, raspberry, feijoa and passionfruit flavours, we still use only natural ingredients and flavours to create these babies and they’re still the lightest, fluffiest marshmallows you’ll have ever tasted. So, what’s changed? After so long a part of the Bennetts family our marshmallows have finally got their own special packaging - making them much easier for you to spot while out shopping and we’ve swapped one ingredient to make them gluten free so that even more of you can enjoy them.



Does it get any better than this? Well, yes! You can also find our marshmallows lurking in
our rocky road. Marshmallow + chocolate? Yes please.

With a hint of spring in the air we recommend trying a summer ambrosia - simply mix
approximately 1 litre of yoghurt with 500 ml whipped cream (fold the cream into the yoghurt) add your favourite Bennetts marshmallow, summer fruits or berries and enjoy!

First harvest

 

 

There’s something deeply satisfying in the first harvest. Watching a tree grow from a tiny sapling to producing its first season of fruit connects us to something historic and magical. And, even more so when you’re talking about olives. Olives are older than written history. Older, even, than writing.

 

We recently harvested olives from the trees surrounding our Mangawhai premises. These trees have grown and thrived in the winterless north and we have awaited a full harvest for a few years. This season the trees have been laden with olives and on a clear autumn day we spread tarpaulins over the ground and picked, and picked. Like so many before us, we shook the trees gently and watched as perfect green and purple fruit fell into our laps.

 

This particular harvest, of olives on autumn days, has been happening since the earliest of times, dating back to the 8th century BC. Our own harvest was destined to become olive oil and we enlisted the help of a local press to produce the golden liquid. Our efforts were well rewarded with 18 litres of oil being produced.

 

We were delighted with the quality of the oil, we can honestly say there’s nothing like freshly pressed olive oil drizzled over homemade bread! We were honoured to gift each bottle of oil to friends of Bennetts.

 

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