The Dello Mano Story is one of Deborah & Bien Peralta, following their dreams and eventually propelling the neglected and largely forgotten Brownie to become the Australian Brownie Pioneers.
With multinational corporate food backgrounds, Deborah & Bien set out in 2006 to re-pioneer the brownie in Australia. Deborah, a food scientist and food brand marketer, discovered an opportunity to use her chocolate and baking innovation background to take the once forgotten Australian brownie concept and transform it into superstardom. With young children, working full time by day, at night, they developed the Dello Mano Luxury Brownie.
With the launch of Dello Mano the Peraltas would go on to revolutionise the humble brownie from obscurity to the front cover of magazines, menus in cafes & restaurants and eventually spurring an exciting take off of many brownie businesses.
Deb & Bien Peralta both shared a dream of developing a small food business. Having both worked in the food business they knew that it would one day be around food. Having moved from Melbourne and nnow living in Sydney, each weekend they'd take a Sydney Fish Market picnic to the banks of the Sydney Harbour and plan their dream business. "The majestic Sydney Opera House, the rippling Harbour, the joy of all the ferry activity, coupled with our small business dreams were an intoxicating creative mix" says Bien Peralta.
Small business dreams still on hold and two children later, the Peraltas adventurously decided to take an unplanned family trip to Italy. They took a "pact" that the trip would be time a to think about life, their dreams and importantly they both agreed on a "no turning back" policy. Whatever was decided on the Italian Trip would be the plan moving forward.
Sitting in the Campo dei Fiori in Italy mesmerised by the Italian food-love culture, the Peraltas finally honed in on the idea seed for their business. "Interestingly it was small goods that really focussed us on our Dello Mano idea. Watching the relationship between customer and store owner, the beauty of the culture in the act of buying food. The care, as even the smallest serve of Proscuito was so lovingly and carefully hand wrapped as if a gift, and then passed to the customer. It was this exchange that was the catalyst for us to want to develop a food and of course now we know Brownie and chocolate gift box that would deliver against all those food- love values". shared Deborah Peralta.
The Peralta couple both smile " Yes well Brownies and Italy are not necessarily natural partners. In fact we have since travelled Italy sampling brownies wherever they could be found. The idea seed for Dello Mano was though discovered in Italy. That is where we found our passion, not so much for brownies but for the concept of the chocolate gift, the cultural exchange, the beauty of the food gift. We were both so committed to real food, with real people and only the best ingredients and we felt that the name should have an Italian link" agreed the Peraltas.
Dello Mano is corrupted Italian of the words meaning "Of the Hand". A name that creatively reflected the Peralta Passion - Reall food made by hand and delivered with service.
A background in large food processing busines left the Peralta's with a full understanding of the reason for large food processing but equally they were charged with the dream of protecting the humanity in food. The time honoured processes, the real recipes that aren't reliant on chemicals and delivered with real service.
That Italian trip concluded with the Peraltas visit to the Slow Food Convention held in Turin. A celebration, like no other, of real food, made slowly by people who for generations have made food for love. It is here in a little town called Coconato that the Peralta Pact to finally follow their dream was made.
Retuning to Australia, the Peraltas continued their day jobs however the dream continued to be alive and well. Determined to deliver with service and humanity the chocolate gift idea, the Peraltas finally decided to follow their dream by elevating the forgotten Brownie." It was a time when the whole world seemingly was talking cup cakes and macarons. We chose the brownie as it was a new, unique and totally our own thoughts and creativity. With my background in Food Science and then Markeing and Chocolate Product Development the brownie seemed like a great focus. Besides we really wanted to do something that was unique and bring something new to the market" says Deborah.
Dello Mano initally launched with a sole brownie - the Classic Belgian Chocolate Luxury Brownie. "The recipe took many years to develop mainly always at nights" says Deborah. " As our kids were young, I would test each recipe by taking freshly baked brownie recipes along to various parent and commitee meetings when asked to "bring a plate". Over a year or so, I would use that feedback to further hone the recipe until one day at a meeting in South Brisbane, a woman stood up, stopped the table and exclaimed "who baked this brownie - it is incredible". I decided at that point it was time to launch" smiles Deborah.
An invitation from Jan Powers to bring our brownie uniquenss to the well known and admired Jan Powers Farmers Markets soon ramped up activity at the Peraltas. " We were thrilled to be invited by Jan. There were no brownie businesses or stalls at the market so we loved her commitment to innovation. Bringing something so new to the market like luxury brownies and gift boxed brownies was scary to say the least, however it was that fine line about believing in what we were doing that fuelled our courage.
With the first Famers Market approaching, it became evident that we would need a product range and perhaps a single serve purchase (in addition to the chocolate gift box idea) so we developed our brownie bar and several other luxury brownie flavours - Espresso Walnut and Honey Caramalised Macadamia.
In a world that seems to be creating overloaded products and combinations of all kinds, the Peraltas continue to believe in simple Brownie recipes, quality ingredients and refined flavour profiles. Dello Mano handmade luxury brownies utilise real ingredients to provide flavour. The flavours arise from choosing real ingredients like Espresso from the machine, real peanut butter and other quality ingredients. Dello Mano avoids adding overly processed foods as ingredients to their products. The Brownie range has now expanded to include:
For many years now, Dello Mano also added seasonal Christmas brownies :
Dello Mano also handcrafts a range of Luxury Brownie cakes and tarts. Building on the luxury experience of real food and beautiful ingredients, Dello Mano today also handcrafts a range of cakes.
In love with their niche luxury brownie product and with a market to develop, the Peralta’s in the early days built the business from morning starts at the Farmers Market. Baking in a shared kitchen that was only available through the night, the Peraltas continued with their day jobs and each night after their children's dinner would pack their baking tins, ingredients and children into the car and head to the kitchen to bake their chocolate brownie goodness. By 2am the brownies would be cooled and safely refrigerated, they'd pack up their car, carry their kids into bed and continue with day jobs the next morning.
A year into working through the night the Peraltas rented a commercial kitchen in Breakfast Creek, Brisbane. The kitchen not exactly in the best retail location however the Peraltas were lucky to have the support of many market clientele who would regularly visit, sit amongst the cars in the car yard just outside their door and enjoy a brownie.
Finally after suffering the devastating 2011 Brisbane floods and the need to redevelop their business, the Peraltas established a retail Luxury Brownie store and kitchen in the artisan suburb of Teneriffe, Brisbane.
In the years since, Deborah & Bien have continued to hone their commitment to quality ingredients, craft-(wo)manship and customer service. Continuing today and since the beginning, every cake and brownie at Dello Mano is made by hand, in small batches.
The Peraltas have from the beginning always baked with free range eggs and other premium ingredients like real butter and Belgian Chocolate. "We insisted on using free range eggs rightt from the beginning. Even when we couldnt afford to do so. Understanding egg quality has been very important and a personal focus for us here at Dello Mano. I undertook by fourth year Food Science thesis on egg quality. As a result long before any consumer focus it was always important. Knowing the egg farmers and sourcing direct from farm gate to the Dello Mano kitchen has always been an important element of our consideration " says Deborah.
This commitment to real ingredients is as strong as ever today, with the Peraltas always on the look out for quality supply. "We happily share for example that the honey we use in our Honey Macadamia Luxury Brownie" says Bien " is sourced directly from the Hutchies bee hives and delivered to the Dello Mano kitchen directly from the hive. Hutchies (Hutchinsons) are a Brisbane construction company with food and beverage interests and have added to their offices a number of bee hives. Dello Mano sources their honey bringing their clients a little more of the magic of another family commited to quality food.
Inspired by the magic of food in Italy and the Italian’s respect for handmade food, Deborah & Bien sought to pay homage by insisting on a consistent Dello Mano presentation that is natural, handmade and elegant.
To this day, Bien’s experience and commitment to customer service par excellence is evident in his hands on approach to the needs of Dello Mano clients. Well known for his love of the Dello Mano business and brand, Bien works tirelessly to ensure Dello Mano always deliver a memorable client experience. Dello Mano remains a family business in which everyone is consolidated behind the Dello Mano dream.
Many years on and hundreds of thousands of brownies later, Dello Mano continues to create only brownies and luxury food that makes them proud. Their handmade brownies and food must always deliver to their revered clients sophisticated taste and discrimination for premium quality.
"Dello Mano is a great chocolate gift as it's handmade quality really allows people to express their care for the recipient as well as their own personal commitment to quality." says Bien. "It's a perfect corporate gift or equally a personal gift. And what we do know now, is that the the high quality, premium focus of our brownie gifts allows someone to send something relatively small however say so much more" says Bien.
Dello Mano brownies gifts, chocolate gifts, cakes and other confectionery delicacies are shipped daily across Australia and around the world.
The Dello Mano story continues to play out with an enduring commitment to the orignal Dello Mano values of Italian food-love.
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