In a city like Melbourne, it’s easy to get swept away by all of the innovative treats. Every restaurant has something special. Looking for an egg that hatches to reveal a delicious dessert? You can find it here. Want a hot chocolate sweetened by a heap of fairy floss? Check! And if you’re in the market for an ice cream cone without the crunch, you can get your soft serve in a donut cone.
I arrived at the Melbourne Cake Bake and Sweets show with high expectations for the city that’s quickly earned a place in my heart for having the best desserts in the world. What I didn’t expect, though, were the bakers and creators who would point me back to their roots as inspiration for their innovation.
Seven years ago, Malcolm Ryan announced that he was going to make rhubarb new again. Rhubarb may seem an unlikely vegetable to champion, but growing up on a farm, his family ate rhubarb in various forms- in meals, desserts, and even drank rhubarb champagne!
Until now, Malcolm’s life work has included mining, plumbing, youth mentoring, and a recent position as a city alderman. Now, he’s 17 months into his new business, Rhuby Delights. After his announcement that he’d revive rhubarb for the masses, he needed to figure out what that looked like. His process included testing 14 kinds of rhubarb, four years’ mentorship in freeze drying and testing processes for coating freeze dried fruits without creating a soggy rhubarb product.
Fast forward to today, and Rhuby Delights has perfected their craft. The product line is high end, using the best Barry Callebaut chocolate to coat its self-grown rhubarb that’s been freeze dried for a tangy, crunchy treat. The chocolate coated rhubarb can be enjoyed on its own or infused with hints of ginger, lime, or orange. You can purchase these treats on the Ruby Delights website.
When I talked with him about innovation and bravery in being the first and only one to have this product on the market, Malcolm shared his secret with me: Don’t be afraid to fail. With an attitude like that, I predict we’ll be seeing a rise in rhubarb on the worldwide scene very soon!
Sweets for Tilly
I sought out the ladies behind Sweets for Tilly at the Melbourne Cake Bake and Sweets show after scrolling past their brownie jars on Instagram. Hel-lo deconstructed brownies, red velvet cake, salted caramel sauce and mini macarons!
I was delighted to meet sisters Nancy and Rachel, who started Sweets for Tilly with their mum in honor of their grandmother, Mathilde (Tilly). The family is very proud of their Mauritian heritage and celebrate their ancestry with a Mauritian vanilla tea and white chocolate macaron.
Follow Sweets for Tilly on Facebook to find out where you can catch this family in action next! Most of their business is done at private events— weddings, baby showers, product launches, birthdays and bridal showers. Hire them for your next party or check Facebook for public events.
The brains behind MoVida, Chef Frank Camorra, took the Celebrity Theatre stage to share some of his secrets. Frank was born in Barcelona and spent his first five years in Andalusia before his parents immigrated to Australia. His innovative dishes mix his Spanish heritage with the hip, foodie culture of Melbourne. He uses ingredients from his homeland and interprets traditional Spanish recipes for a new audience. Bread with olive oil and chocolate is a dessert with a long history in Spain. Now, Melbournians are discovering pan con chocolate at MoVida interpreted by Frank as chocolate bread with olive oil sorbet.
It was the sign that said durian above the bright yellow macarons imprisoned under glass. Food writer Richard Sterling describes its odor as “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” Anthony Bourdain warns that “your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” It’s a love it or hate it kind of fruit, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t exactly in the love category when I first tried it. (Check out the video of that special moment here.)
Colette let me try a couple of her macarons before giving me a taste of the durian. I could smell it before the sample hit my hand and I braced myself for an unpleasant experience. It’s not my new favorite… but as Mary Poppins always says “a spoon full of sugar helps the durian go down.” Or something like that…
I love Chōcolette because Colette sources all of her ingredients from local farmers or from locals in representative countries. Her matcha powder and red beans come from Japan. And there’s a Vietnamese coffee flavor coming soon with coffee beans straight from Vietnam! When she visited recently, Colette ordered coffee with no sugar (her usual coffee order), and was surprised when it came sweet but with no sugar. The locals’ explanation? The coffee is sweetened with condensed milk. Colette liked the way the sweetness cut through the strong coffee and ordered another cup. It must have been during one of those hyper-caffeinated, sleepless nights that she decided to make it her newest macaron flavor. They’ll announce where to find this new flavor on Facebook.
Melbourne Cake Bake and Sweets
I walked into Melbourne’s Cake Bake and Sweets show expecting to be blown away by innovation as I was at the Cake Bake and Sweets show in Singapore. While creativity and innovation are two words that describe this amazing city, that wasn’t my main takeaway. I walked away realizing that even in a country as young as Australia, it’s the roots around the kitchen table that make food that shoots for the stars possible. I can’t wait to keep exploring this incredible foodie’s paradise!