Kenn Chia was a criminal lawyer when he received his first baking commission.
The Butter Mafia ‘don’ and founder has been baking full time now for four years.
The Melbourne baker would rise early to bake before work and then deliver to restaurants in the evening.
Butter Mafia were at Ballarat’s first Baker’s Exchange at the Mining Exchange on the weekend.
Almost 2000 people were through the doors within three hours of opening on Saturday.
“I used to work for a Supreme Court Judge as a judge’s associate hearing criminal matters,” he said.
“I took a tiramisu to a Christmas pot luck and someone there owned a restaurant and he said ‘can I buy this from you to sell in my restaurant?’ And that’s how I started.”
Each dessert is named in keeping with Mr Chia’s “criminal” past – the bad boy brownie, the don, and peanut butter and chocolate henchmen cookies.
“My favourite is the mistress – the mistress is just a little bit tart – lemon and passion fruit – and once you have a bite you’re going to keep coming back for more.”
Mr Chia came to baking without a background in food but is a “massive sweet tooth”.
“I didn’t have any background in food, I just liked eating good food and found there wasn’t a lot out there that was affordable and tasted good and I just figured, we’ve got to do something to raise the bar and set new bench marks.
“What my passion for this is, everything is made with the soul intention if someone’s having a bad day, you want them to eat one of our sweets and have that go away.”
Melbourne baker Downtown Donuts brought 500 donuts on the first day of the exchange.
An hour-and-a-half in, the baker went home to prepare another 500 for Sunday. By midday Saturday there were fewer than 40 donuts left.
“Our bacon and maple syrup donut within the first hour sold out,” sales assistant Damien Micheal said.
“The baker ran home to get a sleep in and he’ll get back up at night to do it.”
Ballarat baker Erika Browne, of Mrs Browne Bakes, sold homemade marshmallows, cupcakes and “lactation nutella bombs” for breastfeeding mums. Almost all her products were sold out – including 170 marshmallows – by midday Saturday.
- People and Places page 15.