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Aussie bakers showing the world how it’s don...

Aussie bakers showing the world how it’s done

Ask any Aussie expat what they miss most about Australia, and they’re likely to answer “a good meat pie (or other staple bakery item)”. These bakers know the struggle all too well, and are now finding success in slinging Aussie pies, sausage rolls, lamingtons and more to the masses across continents. 

Peaked Pies, Canada

Kerrie Jones hails from Newcastle, New South Wales, and spent most of her 20s living in Sydney before making the leap across to Canada in 2009.

“I was only planning on staying for one winter season….as do most Aussies who travel here,” Kerrie tells Baking Business.

“Moving to Whistler, BC, I soon noticed many Australian accents and absolutely no place to get a hot meat pie!”

Pie-drought relief came in the form of meeting her Canadian now-partner, Alex, who had graduated culinary school and dreamt of opening his own restaurant.

“I suggested meat pies and he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about,” Kerrie says. “Soon, he started making them for me at home and when our Aussie friends caught wind, they all started coming over for pie nights too.Aussie bakers showing the world how it's done  

“It wasn’t long after that we decided that Whistler (nicknamed ‘Whistralia’ for the amount of Aussie expats) needed its own pie shop. Peaked Pies was born in July, 2013.”

According to Kerrie, Canadians are confused when they first enter Peaked Pies because traditionally, Canadian pies are sweet, fruit-filled affairs. They caught on quickly though, and since opening Kerrie and Alex have had lines out the door and now have three locations and plans to expand further.

All of the Aussie favourites are on the menu: plain meat pie; steak and mushroom; chicken, mushroom and leek; and steak, bacon and cheese.

“We had so many people asking if we sold kangaroo pies that we thought it would be funny to include one on our menu, Kerrie says.
“We call it The Hopper—it is now one of our staples.

“We also do breakfast pies (The Ned Kelly), sausage rolls, and Aussie-style coffee such as flat whites along with our sweet selection of lamingtons, vanilla slices and caramel tarts.”

 

Kerrie says that opening an Aussie pie shop in Canada has been both hard and rewarding

“I know that our business would absolutely boom in Australia but because we are introducing a new product to the Canadians—and meat pies are not part of their food vocabulary—we are having to constantly think outside the box in regards to marketing and getting them to try us.

“I think it has also kept me a little bit sane in the fact I get to speak to fellow Australian’s everyday so I don’t miss home too much. That being said, now running three Peaked Pies, we really have to plan on how and when we can fit in our visits back home!”

Punk Doily, Japan

Despite having had no previous experience in baking, Kif Saint from Noosa Heads has been slinging Aussie pies, lamingtons, Neenish tarts and more to Tokyo locals for nearly four years.

“I never spent any time in the kitchen though in retrospect I wish I had. Those skills would be really useful now,” Kif tells Baking Business.

“Instead, I went a found a professional book on pastry and practiced making pastry with my girlfriend—now my wife—on a fold out table I had in my tiny flat.

“We actually started out making friands and caramel slice before we built up the courage to try a sausage roll.”

 

Kif originally went to Japan to get to know his half-brother, who lived just outside Kyoto, and loved it. After a year he went home to finish his degree, then three years later went back to Chiba, where he found work teaching English.

So, how do you go from teaching to pies? Kif says it all came about after a social night at the Australian Embassy.

“I had been here for about two or three years by that time and they had pies. I was so excited because you never saw them,” he says.

“I was so happy to have this hot pie in my hands (and a beer). The feeling of disappointment I felt after I bit in to get the taste of salt gravy and shortening filled pastry was profound. “The embassy here has an amazing kitchen and I thought they made their own. And I thought that being the embassy they would have a good representation of our national dish. I am not a flag waving nationalist so It may sound stupid, but the idea that we were welcoming guests to what is ostensibly a part of Australia with food like this actually shamed me.

“And so yeah, to cut a long-winded answer short, that’s where the seed of the idea came from.”

 

Initially, Kif says business was pretty tough-going, and took a few years to pick up, in part because the shop is nowhere near other shops (in fact, it’s on a third-floor balcony above a church!) and they only open on weekends.

“Australian coffee and café culture here is going through a boom right now so there is some awareness of the Aussie meat pie and that’s what many want to try,” he says.

“I have found a small-but-growing contingent of customers that just like what we do and come back regularly.”

G’day Gourmet, USA

Michael Peacock was born in Brisbane but lived in Adelaide, Sydney and New Zealand before landing in America, with all the moving a result of his father’s work. Although he has extended family in Queensland and New South Wales, he has lived in New Jersey ever since.

As a teenager, Michael worked in restaurants, starting out as a dishwasher but quickly moving up as his interest in food grew, and was lucky enough to be taught a few skills by the chefs he worked with.

 

“I worked in pizza shops as well as five-star restaurants and learned the skill of making amazing breads and pizza dough,” Michael tells Baking Business.

“I have always enjoyed cooking but have had to teach myself as I went along. I wish I had paid more attention to my dad’s skills, growing up—he makes an awesome short crust for his pasties. Baking requires a unique skill set.

“Making great dough is an art form.”

As a young man, Michael left the food industry to pursue other goals and had a successful career as a corporate account manager. However, a combination of “the world’s worst boss” and restlessness drove him to make the leap into his own business.

In 2016, Michael opened his Aussie pie company, The Flying Pie Guy.

“Instead of opening a pie shop, which had a very high failure rate, I decided to build a custom food truck and test the market,” he says.

“Our goal is to make authentic, gourmet Aussie pies available to everyone in America. We have scaled quite a bit and now offer an e-commerce pie shop, where we ship our pies and sausage rolls nationwide.

“Our pies are also available in a few specialty supermarkets and in 2022, they will be available at major sporting arenas like Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia—home of the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team.”

You might be wondering at this point how The Flying Pie Guy became G’Day Gourmet—and it is a good story!

“A few years [after opening], I was contacted by a couple of TV producers from California who were seeking contestants for a new reality show called The Wolf PAC,” Michael explains.

“It’s like Shark Tank as an investment show, but more about giving back and helping small businesses thrive, rather than just making money.

“I was picked as the first contestant and had two weeks to prepare for what could change my life.

“Long story short, I was lucky enough to get an investment, but they had conditions—one was to re-brand my company.”

Now, the G’Day Gourmet team are focussed on building their brand and following, but Michael says getting people to try the products is the difficult part.

“As true-blue Aussies, we need to educate Americans on all the gourmet foods Australian cuisine has to offer,” he says.

“We need to introduce new flavours, techniques and knowledge.

“If you are considering coming here to explore a new culinary world and think you have what it takes to succeed, I say ‘come on over, mate!’”

MyPie & Lockdown Bakehouse, England

As the name suggests, London’s Lockdown Bakehouse is a product of the coronavirus pandemic, and has an Aussie at the helm.

Chris Brumby is a Tassie boy—who welcomes the jokes—spending his early life and school years in Burnie, and early cooking years at a nursing home in Devonport, before completing his apprenticeship in Launceston.

 

However, Chris’ ambitions were bigger than Australia’s southernmost state, and London was calling.

“At the end of my apprenticeship in Tassie, my grandfather passed and left me some money. After many times discussing my dreams with him, I knew he wouldn’t mind me purchasing a plane ticket,” Chris tells Baking Business.

“I took a leap and came to London to pursue Michelin pastry, but I never stepped food inside a Michelin kitchen—I couldn’t afford to.

“At the time, £12,000 for 70 hours was the norm and £5000 of that would go on rent.

“Into the pub kitchens I went!”

Chris now has a pie business, MYPIE, and opened Lockdown Bakehouse in June 2020 with business partner Jayke Magnion.

“All around us, everything was closing and I was bricking it,” Chris says.

“Jayke came to me and asked if we could possibly make bread for his cafes. I tried. I failed.

“At the time the government was handing out Bounce Back loans—for businesses like mine to invest into theirs. We took it and used it to find the very best staff we could.

“We got the wheel rolling, just, and opened our little shopfront in August. Little did we know, 16 months later we would have had queues down the road in lockdown and now delivering to 60-plus sites every day, with 27 staff and growing.”

As for the pies, Chris says they were the result of going to a festival and eating a “rubbish pie”.

“We knew with my pub roots our pies could be a lot better,” he says.

“Now we have three food trucks slinging pies across the country.

“We make lamingtons, cherry ripe slice, Anzacs (vegan), and other Aussie classics like lemon and pistachio slice and sausage rolls like back home. We even make doughnuts and stuff them with a Tim Tam!”

 

Chris says the local response to the products has been amazing, with people coming all the way across town to sit on a hard, wooden bench to eat a pie with sauce.

“The products are legit—that’s the thing,” he says.

“Last week we catered an event for the Australian Federal Police. It can’t be all bad!”

Although the past 18 months have been difficult with not being able to see family back home in Australia, Chris is feeling hopeful for 2022.

“I was out doing 3am deliveries when I heard the travel bans to Australia were lifting; it felt like a 25 kg bag of potatoes had been lifted off my shoulders,” he says.

“I had a little tear and knew I’d see my new nephew and family in Aus very soon.

“[But] I have solid roots here—my very understanding and amazing wife Dawn is British; our little boy George is a wonder and we’ve got our dog too.

“We’re not going anywhere.”

Lamingtons Bakery, Germany

Lamingtons Bakery owner Nicholas Nathan likes to joke that that he ended up with a bakery because he’s a poor speller.

“My backgound is actually in banking and finance,” says Nicholas, who is originally from Orange, New South Wales, and later, Melbourne.

“The joke is that there is only one letter difference between ‘banking’ and ‘baking’ and I was never a spelling bee champion, so when I came to Germany I just got put into the wrong profession. This is not true, but it is maybe fate saying, ‘you were close but not quite where you needed to be’.”

 

In reality, Nicholas ended up in baking, and in Germany because of his wife, Sabine, who is a German pastry chef. After the pair met skiing in Austria, they lived in Germany and then Melbourne, before eventually moving back to Germany in 2014 following the birth of their second son.

Sabine wanted to open a Melbourne-style coffee shop in Munich, and within three months had bought a small market bakery.

“I had little knowledge of German and no knowledge of baking—a perfect way to start a career in a foreign country,” Nicholas jokes.

After three years they outgrew the market bakery, and Lamingtons opened its doors in 2017.

“I think that we were pushed by our customers to open a larger place as we could not keep up with the demand for my wife’s beautiful cakes and pastries,” he says.

“We had also brought in a couple of Australia favourites such as lamingtons, party pies and sausage rolls.

“Some other Australian packaged products we sell are Tim Tams, Vegemite and, when available, Cheezels. My kids love Cheezels!”

 

Although he misses friends and family, Nicholas says living and working overseas is a daily adventure.

“Sometimes I wake up and think, ‘what the hell have we done?’ but I seem to always think that if I had stayed in the secure job that I had and continued to pay the mortgage, then I would be happy but probably a little unfulfilled.

“I cannot believe that I can speak another language now, although not perfectly. I can travel to France in four hours, Italy in three hours and can be in Switzerland in less that. Austria is only a short drive and I can get to the Czech border driving 180 kms on the Autobahn.

“Starting Lamingtons and seeing people so happy when they buy our cakes and sandwiches or when they sit in our cosy café brings a small sense of Australian pride to me.

“I am selling the Australian lifestyle to the world one lamington at a time.”

 


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