History in the Baking

Meet the baker and retailer who started Denmark Bakery in 2007, and the son who is keeping them on their toes.

Denmark Bakery partner/retail manager, Sharon O’Brien, has worked in the bakery industry for over 20 years. She keeps things running smoothly at the point of sale, and behind the scenes in the bakehouse office.

It’s in the bakehouse where all the pies, cakes and breads are made, traditionally and from scratch. Here, partner-bakers, Sharon’s husband Clete and their son Tristan, can be found.

With a team of dedicated tradesmen and apprentices, Clete and Tristan might be proving sour dough, preparing vegetables, layering puff pastry, filling custard horns, or perhaps tasting the latest innovation in the gourmet pie range.

"My passion for baking is in the development of new products and like my Mum & Dad I am very passionate about systems and procedures. Denmark bakery is known for its quality and consistency and I want to carry that on going forward."

Tristan O’Brien – The Denmark Bakery

"We really love the industry and so were very happy when Tristan made the career choice to take it up. We are very proud of his hard work and talents for which he won Champion Apprentice at the Perth Royal show two years running and most successful Apprentice at the Baking Industry Awards in the same years."

Sharon O’Brien – The Denmark Bakery

"We were delighted when the opportunity arose in 2015, for Tristan return to the family business, as a partner. Tristan has brought lots of fresh inspiration down from his stint in Perth and the whole team knows him, and respects his skills in baking and his calm and personable approach to operations. "

Clete O’Brien – The Denmark Bakery

37 Years of Experience, Expertise & Entrepreneurship

Clete has worked in baking for 37 years. Heading straight into baking apprenticeships from school, he has enjoyed a varied career, cheerfully embracing all the challenges and achievements along the way.

Clete went into wholesale baking in Perth, where he stayed and worked his way up the ranks. He has worked as Operations Manager in both retail and wholesale, at several large baking and patisserie companies during his career. He is passionate about traditional baking, about process and employment and training. He works hard to safe guard and promote the ancient art of baking through his long-standing work with the WA Baking Industry Employers Association. He has been an executive member of BIEAWA since 1988, and was president from 2000-2002.
Tristan has been in the trade of baking for some 11 years now. He started his baking apprenticeship with his father at a plant bakery in Perth before joining his parents, when they bought the Denmark Bakery in 2007.

“My Mum & Dad are very passionate people like myself and have worked together for a long time. The benefits are that we trust each other implicitly which is a must if we are going to succeed. The only challenge I see is that we are going to have to separate work from personal time – it is so easy to indulge yourself in the bakery, so getting the balance right may be a bit tricky at times.

I am a keen basketball player playing in the local Denmark league. The West Coast Eagles are by far my most enjoyed passion at the moment and I try to make sure my membership is put to good use each and every year.

In the future I would like to see more bakeries employing more apprentices like we do. It is very important that we look to our future industry leaders to keep the trade of baking alive.”

A partnership between new ideas and good old fashioned values

Tristan has a lot of new ideas and fresh enthusiasm, but has inherited his parents commitment to traditional baking methods and country living values.

Clete says, “amongst other factors, a family independent bakery operating in the city has to compete against the vast sea of fast food outlets and drive-throughs. Competing with lost leader supermarket bread is also an issue, but country residents, and visitors, tend to try to take things slower and prioritise things differently.”

The Denmark Bakery benefits from consumer commitment to the local produce trail, and supports this trend by using as much local produce in their goods as possible.

“As much as we can, we procure from Australian owned independent mills and local farmers and vendors. We use local meat, vegetables and dairy” – Tristan

Clete recalls the city trading regulations of the 1980s that prohibited early Sunday morning baking. This gave rise to the association many West Australians have with a weekend in the country and seeking out the local bakery on Sunday mornings for warm, fresh bread.
“When Aussies are on holiday in the country they seek out the local bakery. Many visitors have heard about us through reputation and are keen to try us out. We try to give them a good country welcome and a wholesome experience” says Clete.

“We have to keep our customers interested in our business, the world doesn’t stand still for too long so we are hoping to stay abreast of new trends and make the good old country bakery a favourite for locals and tourists alike. The business plan for Denmark Bakery is to continue with the current policy of quality and value for money but we are also going to add innovation to our products. We are going to introduce a lot more rustic baked goods, so for me the future is looking very exciting for us.” says Tristan.

Standing at the counter of the Denmark Bakery shop, the customer gets to enjoy the culmination of the O’Brien family enthusiasm for and experience in baking. The testimony to care and dedication is in the gleaming presentation of the products, each designed to look as good as it tastes. The menu offers all the great Australian classics, as well as a range of culinary adventures. The walls are covered in awards, cups, shields, certificates and blue ribbons, from state and national championships.

We use competitions as a way of driving us to innovate and improve, on product and process. They are also a way of exchanging ideas with other industry talent and getting inspiration. We believe participating in association prizes and exhibitions is also an important way to promote commitment to ‘quality over price’ in an industry threatened by cheaper modes of production and cost cutting substitutes.

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