RVO Info Central launches “Ask Bob”

RVO Info Central announces the launching of a new page Ask Bob, where visitors can send questions about bakery and food processing equipment and solutions.

Ask Bob is moderated by Bob O’Mara, Director and Founder of RVO Enterprises. He has more than 40 years experience in bakery/food processing equipment sales and service starting with his association with Belshaw in 1969.

RVO Enterprises

Bob O’Mara established RVO Enterprises in 1981 and became sole agent and distributor of Belshaw for Australia. In 2007, he was joined by Wilhelm Harnacke (formerly of Tonelli Group), who is now Managing Director and majority shareholder of the company.

RVO provides a full Consultation, Sales and Service to the Bakery and Food Production Industries.  RVO covers the whole of Australia, with Service Agents in each of the States and Territories. RVO also provides a Sales and Service program to the greater Australasian area, such as New Zealand and Fiji.

The following is a list of our suppliers and their product lines:

A.M. MANUFACTURING Dough Dividing, Pizza Presses
BACKTECH Dough Dividing, Dough Moulding
BELSHAW Donut Robots, Donut Droppers, Donut Attachments
EDHARD Product Depositors, Product Filling Equipment, Product Transfer Pumps
KNOLL Cavity Pumps
MATCON IBC Filling, IBC Discharge
MIXER (Polin Group) Spiral Mixers, Planetary Mixers
MOLINE Rotary Cutters for Donuts, Rotary cutters for Pastry
POLIN Rack Ovens, Deck Ovens, Tunnel Ovens,

Biscuit Depositors, Cream Cookers, Pasteurisers

TECNOPOOL Spiral Freezers, Spiral Coolers
TONELLI Spiral Mixers, Planetary Mixers, Multifunctional Mixers
UNIFILLER Product Transfer Pumps, Product Depositors

Ask Bob or contact us for more information.


Doughnuts – Origins and Other Stories (An RVO Special Research)

A compilation of its early origins, legends, the first donut chains, how doughnuts came to Australia and other stories

A special research by RVO Enterprises

Early origins

The arrival into America of European immigrants, along with their culinary traditions would have shaped the doughnut to the form it is known today. A widely accepted origin is that Dutch immigrants, living in Colonial New Amsterdam, now Manhattan, introduced the precursor of the modern-day doughnut in America with their deep fried olykoecks, or oily cake. Cultural anthropologist Paul Mullins, finds the 1669 Dutch recipe for “olie-koechken” closely resembles today’s doughnuts.[1]

These small deep fried flat cakes – are crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. To avoid leaving the centre soft & mushy, apples, prunes, or raisins, and sometimes nuts, were used to fill the centre of the dough which probably gave rise to the name “dough-nuts”.  

How the doughnut got its hole

Part of an image accompanying the article 'The Hole Truth of America's Sweetest Snack' by Martin Abramson, Boy's Life, Dec 1980. Illustrated by John Huehnergarth.

How the doughnut got its hole is attributed to the exploits of Capt Hanson Gregory while he was at sea in 1847. Frustrated that the insides of the fried cakes were still raw dough while the edges are all done, he said, “Why wouldn’t a space inside solve the difficulty?” Then he took the cover off the ship’s tin pepper box and cut into the middle of the doughnut “the first hole ever seen by mortal eyes!” Returning home, Capt Gregory showed his mother how to make the doughnuts, and from then on doughnuts were made with holes in the middle.[2] 

Whether Gregory’s story is true or not, in his hometown in Maine a bronze tablet honours him as the man who put the hole in the doughnut.   

Doughnuts place in history during World War 1 
For a time, doughnuts were made available by small local bakeries or by housewives who baked them at home. It is only after World War I that doughnuts gained popularity in the States.  

The Salvation Army lassies serving donuts during the war. Photo from http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/doughnut.htm.

In August 1917, the Salvation Army served doughnuts to soldiers fighting the war near Montier France. Word spread and before long, the Salvation Army making doughnuts wherever the war is being fought has become tradition.  

Returning home from the war, the soldiers came back with a taste for doughnuts. Demand for doughnuts soon grew, and in 1920, Adolph Levitt created the first doughnut making machine and started selling these machines to bakeries. He founded the Doughnut Corporation of America and also sold doughnuts and prepared flour mixes under the brand “Mayflower”.  

The first Mayflower store opened in 1931 in New York City and soon 18 shops were opened across the country, the first of the successful doughnut chains.[3]  

Doughnuts in Australia
“Doughnuts” were first mentioned in Australian newspapers as far back as 1845. These articles were extracts of stories or news that were originally published in North America, often about the English and their experiences as new migrants.    

from The Sydney Morning Herald, March 1845

The Sydney Morning Herald, on March 1845, printed an article “English Extracts: Sam Slick’s Opinion of the English, which contained the line, “Who does the preservin’, or makes the pies and apple-sauce and dough-nuts?”  

In another article “The Australian Trade – The Arrival of the Ship Eagle” (The Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 1851), it was written: “The American Union says, ‘They are paid two dollars a day and roast beef (or doughnuts, as they please!) for their services – and they should either work or resign.'”  

“Our New York Letter” (The Mercury, Aug 1889), mentioned that in Brooklyn, “you can get 2 fish balls, a cup of coffee, and a donut for 10 cents” for breakfast.  

from The Maitland Mercury, May 1889

By the 1890s, doughnuts were already part of the Australian table fare (Feeding Alphabetically, The Maitland Mercury, May 1889). A doughnut recipe of that time calls for: one cup of sugar,  one tablespoon of cream, one cup of sour milk sweetened with soda, nutmeg grated and flour to roll (Good Cakes without Eggs, The Maitland Mercury, Nov 1891).   

The 1920s saw an increased American influence on food, as sundae shops and soda fountains and big American food companies arrived.[4] 

American doughnuts have quickly gained popularity and became a standard fare at church stalls, fairs and other events (American Doughnuts for Children, The Argus, July 1939).   

Advertisement for Downyflake Donuts in Canberra Times, July 1954

In 1948, Adolph Levitt’s company The Doughnut Corporation of America or DCA partnered with the Overseas Corporation (Aust) Ltd to become Downyflake Food Corporation Pty Ltd to develop the making of doughnuts in Australia. (The Sydney Morning Herald, June 1948).   

In 1949, Anthony Horderns’ Do-Nut Depot, on Pitt Street Sydney, advertised its “Do-Nuts”, made by their “wonderful new Robot machine”. (The Sunday Herald, Dec 1949)   

First Donut Chain in Australia – Downyflake Donuts

In October 1950, DCA’s Downyflake Donuts store opened in Chadstone Shopping Centre, the first shopping centre in Victoria and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Downyflake Donuts operated several more stores in different locations in Australia. 

The automatic machines fascinated many young kids who watched the doughnuts cooking on the shiny doughnut machine by the shop’s window.  

A mining metallurgist, Chris Shaw, in his article “Peak oil – keep your eye on the donut and not the hole”, wrote about his memories of Downyflake donuts at Chadstone Shopping Centre as a young boy. “Better than the escalators; better than everything else, was the Downyflake Donut shop. The donut machine stood in the window. Embryonic donuts danced and grew in the hot oil as they meandered through the stainless steel maze. That little food processor amused me for hours.”[5] 

Actor Barry Humphries (alter ego Dame Edna Everage) also has an interesting recollection of the iconic Downyflakes donuts. 

"Downyflake" restaurant (white building, second from right) in Swanston Street. Circa 1950. Copyright State Library Victoria

In his speech at the anniversary dinner of the Committee for Melbourne, he fondly recalled, “One of the most important Melbourne spectacles of this period was an establishment in Swanston Street opposite St Paul’s Cathedral called Downey Flake. Here crowds pressed against the window awestruck to observe an enormous Heath Robinson-like stainless steel machine which stirred a vat of yellow sludge, scooped dollops onto a conveyer belt and dropped calamari like rings into a cauldron of seething fat from which emerged, on another belt, an endless succession of sugared doughnuts”.[6]

Downyflake sign, Swanston Street, Melbourne. circa 1950. Copyright Mark Strizic.

Downyflakes ceased operations in Australia in the early 1980s. 

Introduction of the donut robots in Australia
Improvements on the doughnut making machines and production systems continued in America. In 1928, one of Walter Belshaw’s patent application for a new doughnut machine, stated that, unlike the existing machines that have pistons coming in direct contact with the dough, continuously kneading it and resulting in tougher and less palatable doughnuts, his new invention eliminated that problem, has a more efficient adjustment mechanism, and has a detachable cylinder to allow interchangeable parts. 

Belshaw Donut Robot MarkII

Belshaw continued to improve the doughnut machines and by 1963, the first of the Belshaw “donut robots” were sold in Australia. Bob O’Mara, who founded RVO Enterprises in 1981, was instrumental in making the Belshaw donut machines the preferred donut equipment in Australia. Today, there are about 8,000 of these donut robots in existence in the country.   

In 1988, mini donuts were introduced in the market. These small doughnuts, about 20 grams each, proved to be very successful and are still popular until today.   

For more information about donut machines (fryers, donut production systems, Thermoglaze system, accessories) contact RVO Enterprises at 02 9740 5122, send an email to info@rvo.com.au, or enquire through RVO Info Central by sending your comment at the bottom of this article.



1. Mullins, P.R., Glazed America: a history of the doughnut. 2008.

2. ‘Old Salt’ Doughnut hole inventor tells just how discovery was made and stomachs of earths saved in The Washington Post. 1916.   

3. Doughnut King was head of several chains, in The Canadian Jewish Review. 1954.    

4. The Cambridge World History of Food, Kiple, K and Ornelas, ed. 2000. 

5. Shaw, C. Peak oil – keep your eye on the donut and not the hole.  2005; Available from: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3837.   

6. Humphries, B., Return of a Passionate Pilgrim, in The Age 2005: Melbourne.


External links: 

Belshaw donut robots

Doughnut: The Official Story http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/doughnut.htm 

Doughnut Hole and Hanson Gregory 

Return of a Passionate Pilgrim 

The Hole Truth of America’s Sweetest Snack
view in Google Books Boy’s Life, Dec 1980 article

Steinberg, Sally Levitt., The donut book : the whole story in words, pictures & outrageous tales. 2004, North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing. vii, 184 p.
Sally Levitt Steinberg, granddaughter of Adolph Levitt, who developed the first donut-making machine, tells the story of how donuts became popular in America and other tales about donuts. Inside this book are 29 donut recipes from New Orleans beignets to Portuguese malasadas, from Boston crèmes to Alain Ducasse’s upscale Donut.

Green Tea Donuts at Riingo. Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/65104941@N00/376223360/

Here, in Steinberg’s book, you will also find the recipe for “Green Tea Donuts” created by Marcus Samuelsson, for his Japanese/American restaurant Riingo in New York. Made with potatoes and injected with “green tea jam” (edamame – green soy beans, and yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit), accompanied by a cinnamon sabayon, green tea kulfi, and a chutney of exotic fresh and dried fruits and spices (preserved lemon, dried cranberries, fresh quince, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds).

Suas, Michel & Frank Wing Photography (2009). Advanced bread and pastry : a professional approach Delmar Vengage Learning, Detroit
The Chapter on Plated Desserts feature a sophisticated donut recipe. Two warm donuts dusted in sugar and spice nestle alongside a frozen parfait loaded with vanilla beans and a tiny shot of hot chocolate. The miniature drink contains three layers: a rich ganache on the bottom, a hot chocolate in the middle, and a feather-light milk foam topping. Described as a modern interpretation of comfort food at its most tempting.

Doughnuts defined

What is a doughnut?

A doughnut is a sweet deep-fried piece of dough or batter that is either yeast leavened (yeast-raised doughnuts) or chemically leavened (cake doughnuts).

A stack of sugar cinnamon donuts. Image copyright RVO 2010.

Is there a difference between a doughnut and a donut?

The word doughnut was first recorded in print in 1809 by American author Washington Irving; in his book ‘A History of New York’ he described them as “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks.”[1]

By 1900, the shortened form ‘donut’ appeared in ‘Peck’s Bad Boy and his Pa’ by George Peck, [2] and during the 1939 World’s Fair, a series of ‘National Donut Week’articles in The New York Times used both spellings.

Doughnuts, or donuts, are interchangeable spellings and refer to the one same thing: a sweet treat capable of evoking many happy memories of childhood and the old times. Nostalgia and doughnuts, seem to go hand in hand, so is fun and doughnuts.

Traditionally a fried ring sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, doughnuts are now available in many different shapes, sizes, fillings and toppings. Doughnuts are best enjoyed when warm and freshly cooked.

 Doughnut shapes

A donut filled with raspberry jam. Image copyright RVO 2010.

The two most common types are the ring donut and the ball donut, a flattened sphere injected with jam, cream, custard, or another sweet filling. A small spherical piece of dough, originally made from the middle of a ring doughnut, may be cooked as a doughnut hole.

Ring doughnuts are formed either by joining the ends of a long, skinny piece of dough into a ring or by using a doughnut cutter, which simultaneously cuts the outside and inside shape, leaving a doughnut-shaped piece of dough and a doughnut hole from dough removed from the centre. Alternatively, a doughnut depositor can be used to place a circle of liquid dough directly into the fryer.

Donuts with different toppings. Image copyright RVO 2010.

Doughnuts can be made from a yeast-based dough for raised doughnuts or a special type of cake batter. After being fried, ring doughnuts can be glazed, iced or sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

By changing plungers or dies, specialised doughnut shapes are possible, such as old-fashioned, star, French cruller, krinkle, ball, stick or Long Johns, crescent or dunkerette.

Donuts in all shapes and forms. Source: http://pumapac.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/donuts.jpg



1. “Doughnut”. Dictionary.com Unabridged.: Random House, Inc. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/doughnut&gt;.

2. Peck, George W. (George Wilbur) Peck’s bad boy and his pa W. B. Conkey Co, Chicago, 1893.

RVO receives BESA Best Stand Award at FSA Expo 2010

1 July 2010  

RVO Enterprises Managing Director Wilhelm Harnacke receiving the BESA Best Stand Award from Mr Paul McDonald, General Manager of National Baking Industry of Australia

The Bakery Equipment Suppliers Association (BESA) awarded RVO Enterprises the BESA Best Stand Award for the design and overall marketing impact of its exhibition stand at FoodService Australia Expo (FSA) 2010.

The exhibition was held on June 21-23 at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour, where about 120 companies supplying foodservice and bakery equipment showcased their products and services.

Mr Paul McDonald, General Manager of National Baking Industry of Australia (NBIA), announced RVO Enterprises as the winner of the BESA Best Stand Award and presented it to Wilhelm Harnacke, RVO Managing Director.

“As the peak employer association within Australia’s Baking Industry, NBIA (through our official journal Australasian Baker), is proud to be able to support BESA through its ‘Best Stand Award’ as we encourage excellence and innovation through all facets of the industry – machinery suppliers and their marketing endeavours included,” Mr McDonald stated.

BESA is an association of major importers, distributors, manufacturers and suppliers of bakery equipment in Australia.

BESA members who joined the exhibition cast votes to select the winning stand.

Layout and Design

From left to right: Ryan Lantieri (Supplier Principal, FoodTools Inc), and from RVO Enterprises: Urbano Mattiolo (Snr Technician), Darren Murphy (Sales), Wilhelm Harnacke (Managing Director), Kelly Brown (PA/Marketing), and Bob O’Mara (Director)

RVO’s stand featured graphics that made strong visual impact even from a distance. Two 4x 4 meter banners hang from the ceiling. At the centre of the stand is a 3 x 3 meter cube structure; the top of its walls were cut into angles, with the highest point reaching 5 meters.

Although this structure was custom-built for the company’s signage, its function extends beyond that of a graphic element.

It provided the backdrop to convey a ‘shop front’ look — ovens and other bakery equipment were built-in to show how mixing, baking and chilling equipment can be integrated in a retail environment.

A door on one side of this structure leads to a walk-in storage room where electric cables and switches, spare brochures, raw ingredients and staff’s personal items were kept out of sight and out of the way.

With storage taken care of, exhibition space  was used to full extent for equipment display and product demonstrations. 

There was even a visitors’ lounge area, where people can sit comfortably, talk to staff, or watch video presentations from two flat-panel TV screens.

Equipment on display

On display during the show were a Polin Mixer, Convection Oven, Blast Chiller/Freezer,  Cyclothermic Deck Oven,  and a Multidrop Biscuit machine, a range of Unifiller Depositors and FoodTools automatic slicing machine.

There was a demonstration of how donuts are made using a Belshaw Automatic Donut Fryer, and how they can be filled efficiently using an Edhard Depositor. While the donuts are frying, an underbench RVO Air Filtration System extracted and filtered the air, eliminating the need for an exhaust vent.

This is the second time the company won the BESA Best Stand award. In 2008, RVO Enterprises received the award for its presentation of the environmentally-friendly Polin oven range.

On both occasions, RVO Enterprises collaborated with designer Connie Iaria of Iaria Creative.

Asian Pastry Cup 2010 winners announced

29 April 2010

The trio of experienced pastry chefs Dean Gibson, Adriano Zumbo and Jian Yao represented Australia in the 2010 Asian Pastry Cup in Singapore held on April 20-22.

Australian Team 2010 with World Pastry Cup Founder Mr Paillasson

Adriano Zumbo, Jian Yao, and Dean Gibson (far right) with President-Founder of World Pastry Cup Gabriel Paillasson (2nd from right)

Despite a well-executed display of pastry artisan skills, the team took fifth place, only a few points away from the chance to progress to the World Pastry Cup 2011 in France. The 4 teams that made it to the World Cup were Singapore, in first place, and runners-up Taiwan, Malaysia and China.

Australia missed out on the medals but gained a lot from the experience. Team manager and coach Jian Yao agrees. “Now we can pass on the experience to the next team.”

“Overall, joining these competitions is a very good thing for our industry. Since the start, we were pretty open; the industry is aware of the team preparations. We’ve got so many pastry chefs who came during the training, there was so much interest. And at the Asian Pastry Cup, we were able to show the world what Australia can do,” Jian concluded.

Zumbo and Gibson with their completed masterpieces being presented for judging

RVO Enterprises is one of the sponsors of the Australian team. RVO Managing Director, Wilhelm Harnacke declares, “We supported this endeavour to help showcase the Australian pastry industry and its capabilities to the world.”

Held every two years, the Asian Pastry Cup has been a platform for top pastry chefs to exchange ideas, sharpen their skills and achieve new heights in pastry craftsmanship.

RVO sponsors Australian Team to Asian Pastry Cup 2010

19 April 2010  

Australian Pastry Team 2010

from left: Dean Gibson, Adriano Zumbo, Jian Yao. Image courtesy of Continental Patisserie

RVO Enterprises proudly sponsors the Australian Team to the Asian Pastry Cup 2010 in Singapore this April.

‘Team Pastry Australia’ is made up of Adriano Zumbo, creator of the remarkable croquembouche on Channel 10’s Masterchef last year, and Dean Gibson, pastry chef and teacher at Hamilton TAFE. Jian Yao, owner of Continental Patisserie at Strathfield, is the team coach and manager.

The Asian Pastry Cup is the qualifying competition where the emerging top 4 teams will represent Asia Pacific in the World Pastry Cup 2011 in Lyon, France.

Training and preparation

With less than 4 months of preparation, team manager Yao said that commitment and dedication have been very crucial.

“The general level of Australian craftsmanship and skills is high. But we needed to do intensive training in such a short period. We have to be ready to face strong competition from China, Taiwan and Singapore,” Jian Yao said.

Just before heading off for Singapore, the team did a ‘full production run’ following the same time frame as the competition.

In an 8-hour period, the team created their competition masterpieces: 1 chocolate showpiece, 1 sugar showpiece, 2 chocolate cakes and 18 identical plated desserts.

Watching Gibson and Zumbo at work on their showpieces, their passion for pastry art is undeniable.

Putting together the masterpieces

Concentrating on the task, Gibson carefully put together the chocolate masterpiece, which slowly transformed into an egret, a water bird, ready to take off, surrounded by an arrangement of plants and water features, all made with dark chocolate.

Zumbo have been equally hard at work with the sugar masterpiece, stretching and forming these into fluid shapes, elegant flowers, animal forms and patterns with colours inspired by the Australian wetlands.

Besides the visual artistry of the pieces, the ingredients and flavours the team used were another sensory treat. Like the adventurous take on the Australian team’s chocolate cake – the richness of chocolate combined with a hint of lime, pine nuts and aniseed. The plated dessert is also a fusion of flavours with lime marshmallows, strawberry jelly, pistachio sauce and ginger ice cream.

This creative presentation, along, with the bold combination of sweet / savoury flavours is aimed at getting the international judging panel’s attention.

Working together

When asked about working with Dean Gibson, who was his former mentor, Adriano Zumbo replied, “It was a pleasure to work with Dean. I am feeling confident to face the challenges of the Asian Pastry Cup.” Their teamwork is evident as they work closely together, helping in setting up each other’s masterpieces and sharing in the task of plating the desserts.

“Our objective is to be one of the top teams to qualify for the World Pastry Cup in France. We aim to get as much marks on all on our masterpieces, the cakes and the desserts,” Gibson added. Teams will be judged on professional skills and ability to provide practical demonstration of trends and pastry art skills to an audience.

By joining this competition, the team aims to uplift the profile of the Australian pastry industry on an international level. Sharing the same vision, RVO Enterprises has given their full support to the Australian team.