Our story begins back in Switzerland in 1915 when Emil Schwob was a young lad and was given the choice between the baking and electrical trades. He chose baking, not because he was thrilled at the prospect of becoming a baker, but because he thought it would be warm in winter!
Luckily for us, Emil became an excellent premium bread baker who was passionate about bread.
Looking for a better life for his family Emil, together with his wife Franziska and children Hans, Peter and Brigitta, immigrated to Melbourne in 1951. Emil worked for a large bakery for a while but took a big gamble in 1954 and opened a retail shop.
Schwob’s Swiss Bakery was located in a run down section of Chapel Street and only made Swiss cakes. At that stage Australians were eating white sliced bread and Emil thought they wouldn’t like his Swiss style bread so he didn’t make any. Oh how wrong he was!
The turning point for Schwob’s came after the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games – and no, Emil did not compete in them. A lot of European chefs were sent with teams to prepare their food and, at the end of the games, some of them decided they liked Melbourne so much that they stayed and settled here.
The extremely upmarket restaurant Maxims in South Yarra was one of the restaurants who had a Swiss chef and he asked Emil to make Swiss bread sticks for them. As a result, and using a 100 year old Swiss recipe, Emil made bread sticks for Maxims and made a few for the shop as well and then he made a few more……and a few more……..and a few more.
Word grew, sales grew and soon people were coming from all over Melbourne to Emil’s little shop in Chapel Street. You could say that Emil taught Australians the joy of eating Swiss bread.
Emil’s son Hans decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a baker. He worked with his father, learnt all his Swiss secrets and then took over the business when Emil retired in 1972.
By this stage Australians were travelling a lot more and eating habits were changing with consumers becoming more adventurous. As a result, Schwob’s Swiss Bakery continued to grow and soon Hans had to make a decision. Stay in the shop and continue to sell bread or move into manufacturing and supply both the retail and foodservice markets.
He decided to make the move into manufacturing and relocated the bakery to larger premises in Murrumbeena. Using his father’s Swiss recipes and his own understanding of the Australian consumer, he expanded the product range and the size of the business but never sacrificed the quality of what they produced.
In 2005 Hans handed over the reins to his son-in-law Darren and daughter Elena. They were well qualified to take over as Hans had been indoctrinating them into the business for many years. Darren became Managing Director in 2005.
Schwob’s Swiss Bakery, established over 70 years ago and spanning two continents over that time, has shown patience, perseverance and a devotion to making quality goods by traditional time honoured methods. Thank goodness that Emil decided to show Australians the joy of eating Swiss bread.