IT'S not unusual for John Zito to work seven days a week, getting by on three hours' sleep a night.
And no, he's not running a multi-million dollar company or a small country.
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- Nutpatch, Kettering, Tasmania 0428 870 891 or nutpatch.com.au
His job? A confectioner, making chocolates and nougat for his Nutpatch business and shop, with a sideline in farming hazelnuts in Kettering, south of Hobart.
"There are days I work from 5am to 8pm. We have no choice - we can't keep up with the demand," says John, who admits he's one of those unusual beings who can easily exist on minimal shut-eye.
"If I do have a day off I go to town and buy ingredients ... I suppose I just get used to it."
What's more, despite being whippet-slim, the 57-year-old says he can easily scoff half a kilogram of chocolates a day.
"I don't believe those chocolate makers who say they can eat just a small piece," he says.
Using his own farm's hazelnuts, John makes hazelnut nougat to his own secret recipe, with 60 per cent nuts and 30 per cent honey - "it doesn't stick to your teeth. You put it in your mouth and it just melts".
Working with chocolatier Sarah Black, Nutpatch produces about 1.5 tonnes of chocolates each week, in more than 150 flavours using 56 per cent Belgian chocolate - including such curious mixtures as fig and rhubarb, chilli pomegranate, lemon, lime and bitters and creme brulee.
In addition, Nutpatch sells other nut products including hazelnut creme and raw kernels - all using pure ingredients.
John attributes his confection making skills in part to "genetics - it's in my blood" and in part to his science degree.
He was born near the Amalfi coast of Italy - from a long line of farmers and food makers - and came to Australia as a one-year-old in 1956, after his father was employed on Tasmania's hydroelectric scheme.
After 26 years working as a teacher, John retired in 1988 after a school knee injury, which required seven operations.
"My surgeon's son had a pistachio farm and I was growing hazelnuts - because that's what Italians do - and the surgeon encouraged me to get into farming."
From that point John filtered his energies into farming mainly hazelnuts, but also chestnuts, walnuts, and orchard fruit on his 10ha property at Kettering, south of Hobart.
Today he has about 1500 trees with 35 different varieties.
While initially he established the hazelnut orchard, the ultimate aim was always to become a confectioner.
"That way we have total control of the product - from paddock to shop," he says.