At Dandenong Market, we love our bakers. Between traditional loaves, sweet buns and cultural doughs, there is no shortage of delectability within our four bakeries. The bakers who own these small businesses have committed their lives to their trade and are often baking from early in the morning until late in the evening.
From Saturday 20 until Sunday 28 February 2021 Real Bread Week will be celebrated internationally. Real Bread Week is a chance to recognise the work of local bakers who bake loaves that are additive and preservative-free. The campaign encourages people to support small business bakeries which help to create more jobs in local communities, keep the money circulating in the local economy and promote healthy habits.
Besides their cultural differences, our four independently owned bakeries offer unique breads, pitas, cakes and pastries.
Each of our bakers have come from a distinctive past and all have a love for their trade. See below to learn each of their stories.
Rhonda Tannous and her husband Kamil are the much-loved owners of Why Not? Wooden Bakery at Dandenong Market.
After growing up in the Dandenong area and working in her cousin’s pizza shop at the Market, Rhonda recognised the lack of representation of the traditional Lebanese food that she had grown up with and loved to eat.
Rhonda and Kamil decided to open their own Lebanese bakery to help enlighten the Dandenong community to true, authentic Lebanese food. The pair opened Why Not? Wooden Bakery at Dandenong Market in 2011 and work hard every day to continue to grow their business.
Rhonda’s love of cooking originates from her grandmother who loved to cook the traditional dishes that the Tannous family are locally famous for.
Ms Tannous credits her success to the fact that she loves engaging with people, loves to talk and cooks with the love she learned in her youth.
With many regular customers coming from as far as the Mornington Peninsula, Rhonda and Kamil have become well known within the Lebanese community and Why Not? Wooden Bakery has made a name for itself.
The passionate baker loves her business and often arrives at the Market in the very early hours of the morning to commence baking Lebanese breads, manoush and pastries.
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Melina, owner of Melina’s Bakery and Larder, is a descendant of 5 generations of bakers but says that her family isn’t the reason she got into the baking business.
Melina’s immediate family all share a connection in the baking world. Both her brothers and sister supply stock to Melina’s business and she often helps them bake when needed. Despite the family ties to the trade, Melina has never felt pressured to work in the industry and says that she loves bringing fresh, value breads to the community. “It’s never been about the money for me”.
Melina loves the versatility of bread and what it brings to the table. The different tastes and the way you incorporate the delicious doughs into an everyday meal to make it special is what means most to her.
Our resident baker acknowledges there is some competition between the supermarket and local bakeries. However, she knows that supermarket bakeries move to a different rhythm and is confident that there is still an audience that appreciates fresh, well-made breads that not only support a healthy lifestyle but help to support the community too. Melina encourages her customers to try and shop locally rather than conveniently, to better their wallets and the community.
Melina could make a list of her favourite breads a mile long, but settled on the multigrain sourdough, sunflower rye and expressed her bias for the white ciabatta. Melina’s passion for bread is evident from the second you meet her and customers love interacting with her lovely staff who always have a smile on their face. She loves what bread brings to a family meal – perhaps because it has been around for her whole life.
Melina knows that her customers love the variety of fresh products available at a fair price. With the constant queue of people, we’d tend to agree.
Kabul Kitchen is owned by long-time friends Ali Haidari and Mohammad Sarwari who both immigrated to Australia by boat. The future business owners travelled via the same boat and both spent time in the same detention centre on Christmas Island before finally meeting years later. They both laugh about the coincidence to this day.
At 17-years-old Ali left his family behind while escaping the threat of the Taliban in Kabul. He made his way to Pakistan where he began working as a chef. Mr Haidari travelled through Malaysia before making the treacherous journey to Australia.
Ali has called Dandenong home since being granted his permanent residency in 2011 and eventually fulfilled his dream of opening a stall at the Market in 2017.
Mr Haidari and Mr Sarwari are well known around the Market for their bakery which specialises in hot naan bread. The traditional bread is baked in a tandoor oven and is always served warm. People often report that the bread is eaten entirely before they’ve even made it home.
Ali believes the popular doughs are the best in Dandenong and is very hush-hush about his secret recipe.
The foodie friends recently opened an adjoining eatery in 2019 which celebrates Afghan cuisine.
Ali sends his profit from the business back home to his family and hopes that his wife and son, who have spent five years waiting for visas, will soon be able to join him in Australia.
Baker Boys bakery is owned by Jawad Ali Zaza, who found a home at Dandenong Market after fleeing the Taliban and his home in Afghanistan before September 11, leaving behind his pregnant wife who had fled to Pakistan with family. Upon arriving in Australia, Jawad received a Temporary Protection Visa which would prevent him from returning to Afghanistan to visit his family.
Mr Zazah began working in established bakery businesses including Baker’s Delight and Ivan Pies in 2001. The young baker had plenty of experience in bakeries after working for a family business in Afghanistan. Jawad spent three years developing his skills and learning all about baking Australian style breads, pies and pastries.
In 2004, Jawad finally received permanent residency and was able to return to Afghanistan. The new father was introduced to his three-year-old son, whom he’d never met. In 2005, his family joined the new life that he had built in Australia, which he now considers home.
Mr Zazah purchased the Lien Hiep Bakery business in 2010 which had stores in both Oakleigh and at Dandenong Market. Jawad says he ‘loved the multiculturalism at the Market and was proud of his fresh products’, thus convincing him to stay.
Now trading under Baker Boys, Jawad specialises in oven-baked (yeast and chemical-free) sourdough bread, pizza bread, scrumptious pies, pastries and other baked products. His breads are based on traditional family recipes and techniques; however, Jawad also likes to combine Afghan recipes with Australian style breads to make his food unique.
Jawad and his wife now have three sons who often help in the shop. The name Baker Boys pays homage to the three boys he treasures most.