Australia's would-be Willy Wonka, Adriano Zumbo, is in a fight for the future of his sweet-laced empire after his company was placed in voluntary administration.
Administrators appointed to companies in which the dessert king is a director held a creditors' meeting in Sydney on Wednesday morning.
While the administrators and Zumbo were unavailable for comment, attendees at the meeting – who included a smattering of landlords and trade creditors – were told debts could reach as high as $10 million. But that could be offset by assets, including equipment and company owned property, to the tune of $8 million.
The administrators confirmed the Zumbo empire, with eight stores in Sydney and Melbourne, remains open and will continue to trade.
Just how Zumbo, Australian TV's go-to man for sweet treats , found himself in this predicament is not clear.
But the move into a spin-off Melbourne high-tea salon, Fancy Nance, and start-up delays for a high-tech macaron machine, reportedly worth $500,000, wouldn't have helped the bottom line.
There are reports of a circling white knight investor interested in Zumbo's talents and a business with innovative products including his sweet opus, the V8 Vanilla cake and darker chocolate V8 Diesel.
The chef, who has a tattoo of Willy Wonka on his bicep, has had a busy 2018, selling his Balmain home last month for $1.7 million.