With another fantastic Melbourne Food & Wine Festival complete; Easter holidays on the horizon, table-talk has turned to holiday’s away, winter woolies and of course - hot-cross-buns.
And if you have plans to head to the west coast of Victoria in the next few weeks, make sure you drop past La Madre Bakery in Geelong to pick up a hand crafted loaf or some very special carbon-neutral hot-cross-buns created by this month’s Mount Zero Hero Tez Kemp and team.
Born in Colchester and bred in Worcester, England Tez worked in sports marketing in London before meeting Anna Spurling and moving to Australia.
In 2006 Tez retrained as a highly-specialised baker under the expert tutelage of Antun Spoljaric, founder of La Madre. Today Tez leads the day-to- day operations with co-owner and wife Anna and their passionate and growing team.
Hello Tez! Thanks for making time to answer our monthly profile questions, it’s much appreciated. Can you tell us a little about your background and what lead you into the industry?
I grew up in the UK, but 13 years ago I relocated from London with my wife Anna. Anna is from Geelong and we knew we wanted to set down our roots in Australia. My career background was sports marketing, a far cry from running a wholesale bakery. I retrained as an artisan baker and then set out to establish La Madre in the wider market, working hard to ensure that everything we did stayed true to its modest beginnings and our values.
What are your career highlights to date?
Knowing little more about bread other than liking to eat it, my retraining has given me a unique insight into the workings of artisan bread production. We have watched our small business develop tremendously but it is incredibly humbling to see our staff grow with us. Some have been with us for over ten years.
We have long been committed to a sustainable and environmentally friendly business model and in 2010 we developed Australia’s first Carbon Neutral Hot Cross Bun. It really was an exciting achievement because the business was still quite small back then.
On a personal level, being able to build the business alongside fatherhood to four young kids and running marathons has been a big juggle indeed!
What is your favorite menu item and why?
Eggs, anyway. Delicious at any time of the day.
(We hear you Tez!)
Where do you source your produce?
We use a number of producers who share the same approach as La Madre like Mt Zero Olives, Green Eggs and King Valley Dairy. We are always drawn to businesses that share the same values as ours.
The most heard feedback from your regular customers?
I can’t stop eating your bread!
Your favourite kitchen tool?
A sharp knife (mainly to slice lemons for my gin and tonics!).
What would you be doing if you weren’t in the food business?
Travelling the world! (I wish.) I can’t sit still for too long and like a challenge. When I am not working in the food business I am probably driving kids to sport.
Can you give us one word to describe Mount Zero Olives?
We are forever creating the ultimate ‘Foodie’s Bucket List’… go –
A lashing of organic butter on a thick slice of sourdough is hard to beat for its simplicity.
I do miss my Aunt’s Yorkshire puddings but have found comfort in my mother-in-law’s French Onion Soup on a wintery day.
And, the house salad at Salsa Bar & Grill in Port Douglas with an ice cold beer because it usually means holidays.
Do you have any special plans or dream projects planned for 2017?
It’s already under way! We are relocating La Madre to new premises in Geelong because the demand continues to grow. It still feels quite surreal because we have come so far already. There are some exciting new products in the testing phase that we can’t wait to share with our customers. We will continue to operate a sustainable and environmentally friendly business.
La Madre's has won the Geelong Business Excellence Awards 2008 'Small Business Award', the Baking Industry of Victoria 'Bakery Manufacturer of the Year 2009', Geelong Business Excellence Awards 2010 'Medium Business Award' and Geelong Business Excellence Awards 2012 'Sustainable Business Award'. In 2013, La Madre was inducted into the Geelong Business Excellence Hall of Fame. For more on Tez, Anna and their team visit them online or in the store this Easter break!
Thanks for your time Tez!
See Tez's recipes (including Hot Cross Buns!) at our recipes page