It’s been a big year for Maaryasha Werdiger of Ripponlea’s Zelda Bakery.
After starting out as a solo baker in an Elsternwick garage, Maaryasha is now the operator of a fully-fledged bricks-and-mortar business on Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea. She now has a team of staff and long queues of loyal customers who patiently wait on Wednesdays and Fridays for her sourdough loaves and pastries.
She describes this transition from garage to shop as, “Huge!”
It’s with this that we are thrilled to have Maaryasha as this month’s Mount Zero Hero.
It’s been a wild ride and Maaryasha acknowledges that through catering to a larger audience she is learning much about herself and how to operate a growing business on the way.
“When I was operating out of the garage, I had a close relationship with every customer, and moving to the shop meant that I couldn’t engage with them the way I used to. Opening a business, you’re more vulnerable and just have to open up to learning about everything and how to manage staff.”
She adds, “With the garage, I had the techniques of how I make the bread in my head,” she says, “and with the shop, I had to teach the staff how to do it. That can be a challenge but each staff member brings new insights and offers ideas. I love that.”
Mount Zero and Zelda have gotten to know each other this year with the opening of the new bakery. “As soon as I moved from garage to the shop, Jason (Jason Owide Mount Zero’s Key Account Manager) started coming in and he gave us some samples,” she says. “I knew the brand and definitely wanted to align myself with Mount Zero as its focus is on local and ethical produce and it supports indigenous communities.”
It was during Naidoc Week that Maaryasha was seeking out some Australian spices and tried out our Australian Style Za’taar.
Za’atar is a popular Middle Eastern Spice blend traditionally made with a mix of oregano, thyme, sesame seeds and sumac. At Mount Zero, we have given it a modern Australian twist with the addition of native ingredients like wattle seeds and Davidson’s plum.
It’s a unique mix and Maaryasha has utilised in the Za'taar Wholemeal Crackers recipe she has shared with us.
The wholemeal crackers are super-versatile, “They’re easy for home,” Maaryasha says, “go well with hummus, avocado, cheese, smoked salmon, they’re very good on their own, too.”
Maaryasha's recipe makes good use of our Mount Zero Pink Lake Salt, Australian style Za’taar, Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sunshine Honey.
“The [Mount Zero] olive oil is beautiful!” she says, “The olives are plump and delicious.” Maaryasha uses our olive oil at home, too.
Through Zelda bakery, Maaryasha has certainly nurtured a community based on a commitment to quality, good food and support.
She says, “I have a baking community that I’ve built up over time, who I stay in touch with. We have different strengths and focuses and help each other. Everyone can give you advice and I do like to listen to everyone but in the end, I have to do it in my way.”
We’re very glad you do, Maaryasha, and very grateful for places like Zelda Bakery.
by Hilary McNevin