THE LOCAL FILES: NED BAKER
A new generation is making its mark in Mt Martha and in the world of delicious home cooked family recipes.
Ned Baker’s father bought Mt Martha Fine Foods in Mt Martha Village in 1997, just before Ned was born. Now 22 years old, Ned has grown up with the business and has never known life without it. It's fair to say it's in his blood.
Learning the ropes from a young age, Ned started working part time in the business as soon as he was legally permitted to do so, and hasn’t left really. He worked his way up from being the dishwasher to being trained by the chef who came with the business as the dishwasher when the family took over all those years ago. The staff became a second family to Ned, many of whom have been in the business for many years.
A Mt Martha local, Ned attended Mt Martha Primary School and then Balcombe Grammar. He knows the area inside out and is on a first name basis with many of the locals who pop into Mt Martha Fine Foods every day, sometimes twice a day, for their regular breakfast, lunch, coffee or take home dinner.
Ned's mother, who trained as a nurse before taking over the business, had also been part of the retail food industry for some time. Her parents owned Sorrento Fine Foods - which is where the original vanilla slice recipe came from and which is still served at Mt Martha Fine Foods today.
"I never had any passion or desire for cooking until I started working in the kitchen in year 11," explains Ned. "From the time school finished I was here pretty much every day."
The business had been on the market for some time as his parents were ready to move on, and then in December of last year Ned decided to take on the business with two partners, Alli Adams and Will Sandstrom.
“It was a big decision, but it wasn’t a big change. Dad had slowed down over the last 18 months anyway and apart from the admin and bookkeeping I was taking care of it all. Alli, who is also 22, had worked in the business for a few years and Will who is a bit older had been with us for a year or so, and we all work together really well. They approached me about the idea, and whilst I hadn’t considered taking over the business on my own, sharing the operation with two people I trusted made sense."
“Being trained by the chef who worked with us for around 20 years prepared me to be able to make everything that we serve and sell here in terms of the baked goods and home made items. Literally watching him cook, week in week out, gave me the foundations for creating great, wholesome food.”
“Now that summer is over we will slowly update the interior with a few cosmetic changes but the menu will the same at this stage. It works for both our loyal customers and for visitors to the area, all based around home-made recipes that haven’t changed for 15 years or more – we were even nominated in The Age as having one of the top five beef pies in Victoria."
“Taking over Mt Martha Fine Foods was just a great opportunity that came along at the right time. I don’t think I would have invested in a business that I didn’t know or hadn’t worked in, whereas here I know it all inside out. I know all the regulars really well and what they want to eat or drink – I’ve grown up with them really. It feels like home."
Mt Martha Fine Foods is open until 6pm most days which sets them apart from other cafes in Mt Martha Village.
So if you haven't yet tried the freshly produced fare at Mt Martha Fine Foods, it's about time you did. Drop in for a hearty breakfast, delicious lunch or a quick tasty treat, or to order your take home pies, lasagne, baked goods (or the scrumptious mushroom risotto balls) today.
34 Lochiel Ave, Mt Martha