STARTING with only one shop, local bakery owners have now expanded to three privately owned bakeries throughout Central Queensland, and are receiving growing interest from around the state.
Owner of Fairbairn Bakery, Chris Bunyoung, bought the shop in 2004, and with the help of co-owner and fiance Kelly Sellars, transformed it into a local sensation.
The small regional bakery recently won a major award at the National Aussie Pie Award competition held at the Fine Food Expo over four days in Sydney.
The couple took out the the major Wildcard award, where entrants were required to make their standard meat pie in a 'Footy' theme, with the winning pie drawing inspiration from the St George Dragons.
Mr Bunyoung, who currently holds the title of North Queensland pie champion, said it felt pretty good to win against more than 700 bakeries around Australia.
"I just thought a dragon jumping out of a pie would look good, so I did it,” he said.
"Ninety per cent of the judges voted for our footy pie, so we received majority of the votes.”
The winning streak didn't stop there, with Fairbairn bakery taking a major award, one gold, three silver and five bronze awards from a panel of 20 judges.
"It's good for business too because you're receiving feedback,” Mr Bunyoung said.
"That's what the judges do for this, they send back all the faults - what they really like about it and and what we need to do better - it perfects what we want.
"We are a regional area and you don't get a chance to go down and try all those other bakeries, but this gives you a chance to do that.”
After working at the Fairbairn bakery for four years, Mr Bunyoung, who is a qualified pastry chef, chased his lifelong dream and purchased the business when the opportunity arose.
"I thought, I've always wanted to own my own bakery, so I thought I would give it a go,” he said.
He was later joined by Fairbairn wholesale manager Ms Sellars, who moved from the Sunshine Coast after managing a small Montville patisserie and the rest is hisory.
Outgrowing the original mother bakery on Hospital Rd, they expanded to what was then Emerald bakery in 2008, before starting a sister store in Airlie Beach, turning their holiday destination into another work zone.
With the help of 46 staff, the couple are now the proud owners of three bakeries, two pie vans, an off-site factory and a wholesale division.
Mr Bunyoung said they are mix of modern and traditional, still using the original recipes that he was first taught.
"It's the same recipes I was shown when I first started. They were tweaked a little but the meat pies are still the same,” he said.
Ms Sellars said their overall goal was to offer something for everyone.
"We still do old school as well as new stuff,” she said.
"You can come in and expect to get your turnovers, eclairs and cream buns, which a lot of people say you can't get any more. We are a one-stop shop. You can get a salad sandwich as well as your classic bakery items.
"Everything in this bakery is made from scratch, the pastry, the shortbread, everything. Nothing is brought in.
"We are trying to keep the old-style bakery going. It's what we're passionate about.”
Community being the forefront of their business, Ms Sellars said they held old-school fundamentals, aiming to give as much as they can.
"Back in the day you had the butcher, a baker and your local general store and they sustained in the community,” she said.
"You give to the community and they will give back, and that is definitely Emerald all over. "We support the polo, swim clubs, jockey clubs, motocross, football teams, soccer clubs and every school fete.
"We try to donate as much as we can just to help the community out. What we're sponsoring is definitely worth it.”
Ms Sellars said Fairbairn bakery has partnered with Neighbourhood Centre and 3C Church to donate bread and other goods to those in need.
"They come in and collect our bread,” she said.
"Whatever we have left over we give to them so they can distribute it to the underprivileged or to people who are just having a tough time. We've been doing that for quite a few years.”
They have also recently partnered with Denison State School to provide free breakfast for students.
The couple proudly announced that the mother bakery will be having a big renovation next year, that aims to harness and showcase what the Central Highlands does.
"It's something to look forward to. It will transform her into something amazing,” Ms Sellars said.
"We really embrace the community wherever we go. Whatever we earn, we can give back.”
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