Food banter with Brisbane's brownie legends: Dello Mano
26 Aug 2015
If brownies are one of your favourite treats, you should know how they got to the elevated pedestal they are on today. New Farm legends Dello Mano are the bakers you can thank for taking brownies from their humble place as sweet baked goods to the forefront of current dessert options, making them the favourite of Hollywood stars and government bigwigs alike. In fact, Dello Mano’s brownies are so good they’ve been on the front covers of national newspapers and were even given to delegates at the G20 as the penultimate Brisbane treat. And who is behind this feat? Deborah and Bien Peralta, bakers, parents and brownie lovers, who 9 years ago decided it was high time brownies got the attention they deserved – and succeeded. Deborah came from a background of food science and brand marketing, but decided to throw it all aside and use her magical baking abilities to transform the once forgotten brownie into an international sensation. Together with husband Bien, their two small children by their side, the duo started working through the night to bake up drool-worthy brownies, selling them at markets until the 2011 floods took out the shared kitchen they’d been using. Not ones to be put off by a minor setback like no kitchen, they decided it was high time to open their own place, and so the Dello Mano luxury brownie store and café in Teneriffe was born. We had a chat to Deborah about how they came to be the rockstars of the brownie world – while we stuffed our faces with as many fudgy chocolate brownies as possible, of course. Tell us what it is you do so well in a sentence, and don’t be modest. We respect and love good ingredients, handmade processes and the people we serve, which together creates brownies, magic and happy people. Did you ever imagine your brownies would become the phenomenon they are? So much energy is required to develop a small business that the single best thing you can do is “to believe” – then you are powered not so much by the idea of making money but by a belief in your product. We believed in our brownies from the start, in our handmade crafts(wo)manship and in using beautiful ingredients to create a unique product from scratch. We wanted to counteract the cheap ingredients and mass produced products we saw being used in food and instead celebrate creativity and do something different. We honed our concept and just continued to believe as people started to understand our brownies and come to love them. So I guess, in a way, you could say we did imagine it! We hear there’s a celebrity who can’t get enough of your brownies, can you tell us more? We were lucky to have a famous celebrity order brownies as we were recuperating from the devastating 2011 flood. Our kitchen at Breakfast Creek survived the water damage, but all of our stock was destroyed and there was no electricity for 4 weeks after the floods so we were almost wiped out. We had only just returned to the kitchen to rebuild when we got the call. Needless to say it was incredible, lifted our spirits hugely and really got us motivated! What does a typical week at work involve for you, besides “Full on!” We operate 7 days a week and are still very hands on. I can’t say we have a typical week as with a growing business everything is constantly changing. With two teenage kids thrown in the mix, the week usually pretty wild! What do you love most about your job? Despite the massive amount of work, we just love our brownies and our business. Our kids have grown up surrounded by a kitchen of recipes, brownies and packaging – this was a family business from the start, despite our kids being quite young (7 and 9)! They even got up at 2am with us to take brownies to the New Farm markets. Dello Mano is our family, with the ups and downs of any family, and we love it. I also love the fact that through giving up our corporate jobs and following our dreams, we have taught our kids to take risks, to create and to follow their dreams. We love that we have so many supportive people, many from our farmers markets days, that enjoy all the care and passion we put into Dello Mano and reciprocate that passion back to us. It’s what business, especially a food business, should be all about Where did you get the inspiration for your specialty flavours? Our flavours generally come from one of us really enjoying a particular nut or ingredient. We don’t follow trends as much as create timeless pieces. Are you working on any new brownie flavours at the moment? We are always working on new brownie flavours! We recently launched a range of brownie tarts which allow us to add some beautiful Belgian chocolate ganache, handmade caramels and even more nuts to our brownies. What goes into your brownies? From the beginning we always used free range eggs (even when we couldn’t afford it!), fresh butter, Belgian chocolate and quality ingredients. And we continue to develop new products with these foundations, still making in small batches. And of course, the magic. As we tie each Dello Mano brown ribbon, we seal in that magic! What is your favourite brownie flavour? Classic is still our favourite. We spent many years working on the recipe and to this day, if we may say so ourselves, we believe it to be delicious! So do we! Where/what was the last great meal you ate in Brisbane? We have a favourite spot at Bar Alto – the food and ambience is always wonderful. The team there offers a very comfortable and friendly environment and we know it will always be excellent. We don’t have much time off – so when we do we want to go somewhere we know will be amazing!