LEGACY: The late Noel Donnelly is pictured here outside his beloved shop, The Pie Guru.
LEGACY: The late Noel Donnelly is pictured here outside his beloved shop, The Pie Guru. Rob Williams

Ipswich pastry legend Noel has baked his last pie

SOMEONE is enjoying great pies in heaven right now.

Iconic Ipswich pastry cook Noel Donnelly has died, leaving behind his legacy as "the daddy of pies".

You might have seen the bakehouse stalwart's face smiling at you from his store front signs.

Mr Donnelly was the founder of Big Dad's Pies, a bakery chain launched in Ipswich in 2002.

The franchise was sold to the Retail Food Group in 2009.

After the Ipswich stores closed in 2010, Mr Donnelly and his son Stephen were back with a new business, The Pie Guru.

They opened two stores in West Ipswich and Warwick Rd last year as well as one in Rockhampton.

Mr Donnelly started his pastry cooking career in Toowoomba at age 13 and continued to work in the bake house up until the age of 90. Before that, in the late 1950s he owned Jimmy Wah's shop in the centre of town before Jimmy Wah owned it. He also owned the old pool hall.

Mr Donnelly served in The Royal Australian Air Force as a leading aircraftman during The Second World War and received numerous decorations.

Stephen Donnelly said his dad always strove for perfection which was evident in his baking.

The original 'Big Dad' Noel Donnelly is back, opening The Pie Guru in the old Des' Diner location. He has alos opened The Guru's Kitchen in the former Fatseas building. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
The original 'Big Dad' Noel Donnelly is back, opening The Pie Guru in the old Des' Diner location. He has alos opened The Guru's Kitchen in the former Fatseas building. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times Rob Williams

"When we started Big Dad's Pies, we employed a full-time baker and pastry cook," he recalled.

"After a few weeks, dad told me they didn't know anything and that we were wasting our time with them.

"When I asked who would do all the baking he replied 'I can do more than those two put together'."

Mr Donnelly was 82 at the time.

Stephen said his dad had taught him everything he knew about how to make the perfect pie.

"Dad was a visionary and always seemed to be one step ahead of the industry," he said.

"One of his last ideas was to make gluten-free pies...we are pushing to have them available in store for his birthday on March 23.

Stephen said Mr Donnelly had passed all his pie recipes down to him and he would ensure his dad's legacy as The Pie Guru lived on.

Stephen said his dad's love of pie-making was only surpassed by the love he had for his family.

Mr Donnelly died in his sleep at home on February 13. A funeral service was held in Gladstone last Tuesday. He is survived by his wife, Sandra, his children and grandchildren.


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