Our kitchen in the morning offers the very sweet welcome of Brownie Love. The waft of baking chocolate brownies is the first sign that we’ve arrived. Already the promise of great baking and delicious little brownie morsels everywhere. It’s so wonderful to be with the kitchen team as they now take the daily lead in pursuing our dream to protect the handmade and make the world’s best brownies. Read more…
We’re proud to be able to say that Dello Mano brownies have been enjoyed literally all over the world. In fact, some of our most passionate devotees live thousands of kilometers away from our Brisbane home. We’d like to share a story about one of these cherished members of the Dello Mano family, who we’ll call May: the biggest Dello Mano fan in all of Singapore.
Breakfast yesterday was at a TAFE presentation called Risk & Reward. The speaker was John Wagner, a senior family members of the Wagner Concrete Business. Not usually up for a breakfast with Christmas in full flight at Dello Mano however, I couldn’t resist learning more about this concrete company’s latest project.
As widely covered in the press, John and the Wagner family undertook the most amazing project and built the new Toowoomba airport. Not only did they take it on, they funded it themselves and they were finished in 18 months. An incredible feat by anyone’s standard! If you have a chance to ever listen to one of the Wagners talk about the project then do yourself a real treat and stop and listen. Your heart will be rewarded with a most compelling story of courage, hope, sheer hard work and determination.
Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.
The Wagners have a large multinational Concrete business based in Toowoomba, Queensland. Apparently the second largest inland town in Australia and previously famous in my mind because it is the home of the passionate family food business –Weis Ice Cream (which by the way is real quality Ice Cream all made in Australia!)….oh and also the home of some amazing people and Dello Mano friends!
As the Wagner story goes, the owners figured a little while back that without connectivity to the rest of the world their international business would be stifled. With no interest from any other parties including government, they solved the connectivity problem by building and airport – themselves! No case study meant no bank fundingso they paid for the entire project themselves! Just some of the Toowoomba Airport project:
- the only new airport built in Australia since Tullamarine
- the most environmentally friendly airport built in the world
- the fastest airport project ever built
- thousands of jobs will be generated for the Toowoomba region
- the only airport ever built in Australia without any government funding
- the project was documented in late 2012 and the first flight took off in late Dec 2014 – a build time of 18 months!
You can’t outwit fate by standing on the sidelines placing little sidebets about the outcome of life. Either you wade in and risk everything you have to play the game or you don’t play at all. And if you don’t play you can’t win”.
At an estimated $200 Million spend, the sheer tenacity and courage of the Wagner family is to be commended. And we know from our own humble little experience when we set out to Pioneer (sorry about the Pioneer concrete pun!) the Brownie market in Australia, the real work only begins after the huge (….yes i know but it is all relative) risk and decision to actually start is taken. The Wagners now have the big task ahead of creating a business that will make the project a financial success.
Speaking of success, the concept of risk and reward is interesting. In terms of the enormous Wagner risk, the reward is surely there for all involved in their demonstration of amazing courage and passion. The reward is there too, for the many of us who have made the leap or want to make the leap to follow our own dreams and passion as we take example and inspiration from the Wagner story.
Recently I wrote a blog about the Original Brownie, claimed to have been invented at the Palmer Hotel in Chicago. Having pioneered Brownies as gifts here in Australia, we were loving the idea of a woman behind the original brownie and equally loving that a woman was directing events at the Columbian Exposition in the late 1800’s. So we set out to explore a little more about Bertha Palmer: the woman behind the brownie.
A woman ahead of her time, Bertha Palmer was not only the force behind the delight but was also a philanthropist, champion for women’s rights and later an entrepreneurial Florida property and resort developer. Although she hailed from a wealthy Southern family and later married the wealthy merchant Potter Palmer, she demonstrated from an early age an understanding and natural flair for business.
Unlike many women of her time, it is said that she would freely engage in business discussions with her husband and his associates. In her words “I was not a suffragist! I simply felt that intelligent women could work with men to achieve their
goals. I preferred diplomacy to balance the social and working worlds. Both my father and my husband had encouraged me to learn about business….”
Decades before women had the vote, Bertha campaigned for women’s rights and equality and it is reported often made her grand home available for feminist meetings.
She was a true leader and, in many ways, a visionary. Instrumental in the setting up of the Chicago Women’s Business Club in 1888 to help women entering the workforce, Palmer also served as vice-president of the Civic Federation. She was both well respected for her intellect and yet equally known for her haute couture and her joie de vivre.
photo courtesy of http://www.sarasotahistoryalive.com
When Chicago won the honour to host the World Columbian Exposition she and her lady friends reportedly became fixated with creating the most memorable experience. They wanted to out-do the Paris Exhibition of 1889 which had the now iconic Eiffel tower. Chicago would have the giant Ferris wheel and an amazing exhibition of works by women. Bertha was chosen as President of ‘The Board of Lady Managers’ and in this role she hand picked 117 women to work with her on the project. She was reported as saying, “Even more important than the discovery of Columbus” Bertha proclaimed, “is the fact that the government has just discovered women.”
Bertha went on a mission to Europe raising donations for the Exposition and created a whole building dedicated to 47 nations of women and their industry and achievements including the Hambell cake and egg beater and a little more novel a dress stand that could be converted to a fire escape! In her preparation for the event, Bertha was proactive encouraging all women to submit their work to the Exhibition. Echoing over a century ahead of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” concept, Bertha gave all women the advice to “Keep up with the procession, and head it if you can.”
What an amazing combination and life – Bertha Palmer, key driver of the original brownie was both Societal and Brownie Royalty.
We set out on a Dello Mano quest to explore great pastry in Paris and wow did we find it at Pierre Herme. For the brownie obsessed like us, there were no brownies as we know them (I say this with tongue in cheek) however, the amazing choice of pastry and chocolate was more than a little distraction.
Herme has stores in France, Japan and England. Known for executing some of the most divine desserts and chocolate treats, he is perhaps best known for his macaroons, often said to be at the foremost of their kind in the world. After our visit to this pastry and chocolate store, we’d have to say the macroons are incredible!
Pierre Herme is no stranger to baking and chocolate making as he’s the fourth generation of a premier Alsatian bakery tradition. He began his training at 14 with Gaston Lenotre. To this day, Herme avers that his 11 years with Lenotre were his greatest from a learning and inspiration perspective. He followed this experience with another 11 years at Faulchon where he built his chocolate expertise. In 1997 he was part of the expansion of Laduree across France. He started his first boutique, Pierre Herme Paris, in Tokyo. By 2002 he opened his Paris store and ever since has strengthened his presence in Japan, France and London.
Herme offers a range of innovative Macroon flavours. The white truffle hazelnut macaroons are said to be fantastic. On the day we visited we selected the Herme signature macaroon of olive oil and vanilla – amazing crispy outer texture, delicious creamy centre and surprisingly a very distinct yet subtle olive oil flavour. Really unique!
We’re not sure if he offers a chocolate brownie macaroon ( 🙂 ) however saw and tasted many fruity varieties. As well as macroons we tried several amazing pastries and cakes.
Herme could easily be considered a couture pastry maker, producing 2 stellar collections a year and so often each one even more creative than the one preceding it. Each collection has a theme and a focus- just like the fashion runway. Vogue dubbed Herme the Picasso of Pastry.
We devoured the chocolate tart below – simply delicious! Absent of any in store dining and in a wonderful show of community, the lovely assistant at Herme told us of a cafe around the corner where if we were to buy a coffee we could enjoy our pastry while sitting down. We did indeed do that – the coffee price added to the overall cost however it was a food and chocolate experience to remember. Interested Parisians starred as the Dello Mano family slowly peeled open the litte white boxes and admired the beautiful chocolate treats.
A list of Herme stores is provided on the website – http://www.pierreherme.com. We visited in the 6th Arr of Paris however there is also a store in the 15th. A memorable chocolate and pastry moment!