Recipe for sweet success

2017-02-28 08:21
Sunnyside Park residents (from left) Brenda Ferguson (62), Lui Comanducci (72), Gilbert Victor (82), Tony Oliver (63), Gert Pretorius (90) and Ken Cadle (78) make and sell custom-made chocolates to raise funds for the old age home.

Sunnyside Park residents (from left) Brenda Ferguson (62), Lui Comanducci (72), Gilbert Victor (82), Tony Oliver (63), Gert Pretorius (90) and Ken Cadle (78) make and sell custom-made chocolates to raise funds for the old age home. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - Five free-spirited gents from Sunnyside Park old age home are breaking gender stereotypes with their custom-made range of chocolates for those with a sweet tooth.

Lui Comanducci (72), Gilbert Victor (82), Tony Oliver (63), Gert Pretorius (90) and Ken Cadle (78) make up the vibrant team.

“We pull one another’s leg all the time,” explains Oliver after the group roar in laughter as Robyn Cruz (Sunnyside’s event organiser) jokes about how Victor came to be coined “Grumps” after his “famous smile”.

The group’s unusual friendship is primarily what makes their new venture a recipe for success, said Comanducci, the group’s chosen speaker.

“The idea came about in December. We wanted to raise funds for the old age home and Brenda Ferguson, who has been making chocolates for 25 years, took us under her wing,” said Comanducci.

Ferguson said the five were very eager students. “Making chocolates started out as just a hobby. It was something that I enjoyed and the guys were such a pleasure to teach. We spent the whole morning in the kitchen that day but I didn’t even realise because the time went by so quickly” said Ferguson.

“She first demonstrated to us how it is done and then we all took turns and got involved,” said Comanducci.

“At first it was quite tricky, but eventually we got the hang of it and have never looked back.

“We started out with little Christmas trees and now recently we had different teddy bears and hearts for Valentine’s Day.

“We were fortunate to get a donation from a woman from the Sunnyside Park head office called Pam Job. She donated about R400 for us to start out and buy the initial chocolates and other essentials.

“She said she was fascinated by our enthusiasm because chocolate making is not really a man’s world to venture into. We’re also all challenged in our different ways physically, but we managed to do something like this anyway.

“For us I think the main thing was the opportunity to learn something new. At our age it just goes to show that one can never stop learning.”

The chocolate making crew, who were involved in various different career paths before retiring, said their previous professions have helped with their roles in their new venture. Comanducci was a teacher, Cadle an electrician, Victor was in security, Oliver in banking and Pretorius was a salesperson and Sunday school teacher.

“We started selling to other old age homes. We’ve had some orders from schools and general people who’d ordered in their personal capacity. The reception has been good. Most people were surprised by what we do because we’re men.

“We’ll also never forget our visit to the bikers club on Oribi Road earlier this month where the bikers purchased our entire order.

“Of course the Valentine’s Day period brought in a storm of customers. Things have calmed down a bit now. We’re taking mostly events orders and we’re getting ready for Easter.”

After only two months running and raising about R2 800 in their first month, the men are ready to offer some expert advice on the adventures of chocolate making.

“It is important to get your temperature just right. And when cleaning your container you must use pure hot water and not soap, because soap ruins the chocolate.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of fun and we already have a few ideas on how to grow this initiative. Since we started there has never been a dull moment at the Sunnyside’s chocolate factory,” said Comanducci.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  good news

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