Cooking up centenary celebrations 

Hugh Phung and Alex Polyak, Tamborine Mountain Bakery
Hugh Phung and Alex Polyak, Tamborine Mountain Bakery

BEHIND the unassuming façade of 28 Main Street lies not only an historic business of Tamborine Mountain but Queensland.

Since 1924 the Tamborine Mountain Bakery has been feeding locals and visitors, and this year it is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The bakery has the oldest brick oven in Queensland which remains in place, despite not having been used for about 30 years.

Alexander Polyak and Hugh Phung are the new custodians of the bakery, buying it from Leo Hoitink who owned it for 30 years until retirement in February last year.

Alexander and Hugh have been friends since 1993 when they met working for a bakery supplying five-star hotels and catering for high end functions in Sydney.

Alexander stumbled upon the little bakery by chance when he saw an advertisement in the paper for a job and accommodation, after caring for his sick mother for three years.

“I thought it sounded like a good opportunity to get back to work,” he recalled.

After working for Leo for two years he jumped at the chance to buy it and encouraged Hugh to move from Sydney and join him.

Since taking it over their focus has been on giving the building some attention. 

“There are a lot of challenges because it needs some maintenance. It’s being modernised slowly from the inside out,” Alexander explained.

“We will install a walk-in freezer to create more space and more capacity and allow us to make higher quality cakes.”

They are also bringing in a printer to print photos and logos onto icing and plan to specialise in a range of cakes including wedding cakes, just as the bakery did in 1924.

The main sign on the front of the building was ripped off in the Christmas tornado, revealing the original sign from 1924 underneath.

In its early years it was one of only a few premises on a dirt road which included a post office, Geissman’s General Store, Zamia Theatre and a butcher.

In 1936 George Hohl bought the bakery from Bert Jackson, and at the age of 26 became the youngest baker in the country to own a two-arm dough mixer and built a new oven, which remains today.

In 1940 George sold the bakery to Stan Carter.

The bakery remained ahead of the market in the 1980s with top of the line equipment, making it the most modern bakery in Queensland.

Now Alexander aims to bring it back to a high standard, with new equipment and new recipes, as well some old – their date and walnut loaf dates back 100 years.

“We plan to be the best bakery in the area with new innovations.”

They employ two local apprentices as well as 16 staff, ranging in age from 15 to 72.

Plans to mark the centenary are still in the works for later in the year.