By Vivienne Pearson
I first discovered Byron Bay Organic Doughnuts at WOMADelaide, the world music festival held each March in the heart of Adelaide.
I fell in love with everything about them apart from, thanks to their huge popularity, the long queues to buy them.
When I moved to the Byron Shire it was a joy to discover that I could eat one – with a much shorter queue – each month at the Bruns Market.
The WOMAD connection is explained by the fact that Phil Hargraves grew up there. Says Phil, owner and chief doughnut maker of Byron Bay Organic Doughnuts: ‘So I figured I might as well visit once a year’.
Phil started making doughnuts 15 years ago for Shearwater Steiner school, where his kids attended, when he was living ‘out the back of Wilsons Creek. I adapted a recipe to include all organic ingredients and made a few the first week,’ Phil recalls. ‘They disappeared, so I made 60 the next week, then 90 the week after that.’
The business, like its name, grew organically. Santos was the first cafe who asked for supply, then Phil started deliveries from a kitchen in the Byron Arts & Industry Estate. Markets came next, followed by local festivals, encouraged by longtime market stallholders who did what Phil does now – combine weekly market trade with bumper periods at festivals. ‘The first one was the Nimbin MardiGrass,’ says Phil. ‘Then Woodford – that was a big step.’
Phil’s wife Violeta (also known by her nickname of Myra) is the face of the doughnut business (‘I’m usually out the back cooking,’ says Phil). Also on deck at WOMAD, held last weekend, were various family members. All hands on deck are usually needed at such a busy 4-day event, but this year extra family members are on deck for a more poignant reason than just trying to produce enough doughnuts for the hungry festival crowd. Phil’s niece Jodie Simone has cancer and all proceeds from the event are going towards funding the expensive immunotherapy treatment she needs. ‘Everyone is helping out,’ says Violeta.
The queues at WOMAD were even longer than I recall – with people waiting up to an hour for a doughnut. Like everything at WOMAD, those queueing were relaxed, especially thanks to Byron Bay Organic Doughnuts’ new location within sight of the main stage. ‘We’re overwhelmed with how patiently everyone is waiting,’ says Violeta.
I am a particular sucker for the ones with a dark chocolate heart. Even if I approached the van fully committed to ordering a jam one instead, the word chocolate would always jump out of my mouth. Thanks to being able to eat a doughnut each day of the festival, I finally achieved my goal of trying a blackberry jam one (I know – talk about first-world goal-setting problems).
The jam doughnut was great… but I’ll be back to chocolate next month at the Bruns Market!
Byron Bay Doughnuts are only rarely sighted once a year in the habitat of Adelaide. Most often they range widely within the markets and festivals of Byron Shire, like Bluesfest.