Search >

Toowoomba Chronicle


Toowoomba Chronicle Articles

From article Oct 2006

Entrepreneur eager to secure city's reputation with giant replica of edible icon
Cake maker puts faith in folklore

You would think after overseeing the production of 1.2 million lamingtons every single week you'd be sick of them, but not Julian Lancaster-Smith. So keen is the director of Quality Desserts company to see Toowoomba recognised as the official home of the lamington, he is contemplating the erection of a giant lamington to attract the tourists. "The lamington should be preserved as a Toowoomba icon maybe we could build a big lamington out the front," Mr LancasterSmith said, pointing to the car park area of the company's McDougall Street site. "I have also considered the idea of a bakery musemn, or putting the history ofthe lamington on our packaging." He is quite serious. And why shouldn't he be? Quality Desserts is the third largest producer of lamingtons in Australia, with the chocolate-coated treats making up about 50% of the company's total production. "We've been making lamingtons for about eight years or being asked to supply them for a supermarket," Mr Lancaster-Smith said. "It started out completely by hand - people soaking cakes in buckets of chocolate dip - but it has grown since then. "Now we are able to produce between 10,000 and 12,000 lamingtons an hour on our main line (there are two lines)." Quality Desserts makes three lamington flavours -lemon, raspberry and the traditional chocolate - with the chocolate far out selling the others. Different States have different tastes, however, with Victorians preferring Iamingtons with jam and people from New South Wales opting forjam and cream in theirs. And Queenslanders? "They don't like jam," Mr Lancaster-Smith said. "They like them plain." Mr Lancaster-Smith said he hopes to be involved with any local group rallying national recognition of the lamington, and has no doubt at all about its birthplace. "The lamington is very definitely a Toowoomba invention," he said. "We have the tea towel to prove it."

From article Oct 2006

Did Grandma invent the lamington in Toowoomba?
Family certain Fanny Young made them for 'Lord' employer

If only they had been called fanny cakes instead of lamingtons, Col Young would be able to prove beyond a doubt it was his grandma who invented them. Mr Young's family has long believed Fanny Young was the cook responsible for whipping up a new cake for her employer, Lord Lamlngton, at Harlaxton House in the late 1800s. "It has always been discussed at family reunions that it was grandma who invented the lamington, although she never said so," Mr Young-said. "She was employed as the cook for the Lamington family at that time - and she did make the very best lamingtons. " Fanny and her husband Robert (who was a groom) worked for the governor until his return to Scotland in the early 1900s. The pair then moved to Ipswich before eventually settling In Toowoomba, where a young Col spent plenty of time with his grandma. "She always took me to church on Sundays, and she made me behave - I was always good for her," Mr Young said. "We'd all go over to her place for Christmas dinner, and she'd never let anyone in the kitchen ... one day she was sprung making the gravy ----' with Gravoxl" Despite the gravy kafuffle, Mr Young said Fanny was a great cook "There was nothing she couldn't . make," he said. "She also made great Swiss rolls, but lamingtons were always my favourite. "They must be in my blood." Mr Young is keen to see the lamington acknowledged as a national icon, with Toowoomba recognised as its birthplace. "I'm very proud of the lamillgton," he said. "I'd like to see its history preserved." And what makes a good lamlngton, according to the man whose family Invented them? "They've got to be fluffy In the middle, with lots of thick 'proper' chocolate and plenty of coconut," he said. "They shouldn't have anything in them like jam or ·cream. "And they should be big. I like the big ones."

Who made the first one?
Toowoomba is not the only place in the world to claim the lamington. We may have the tea towel, but other centres, including Southport, insist the lamington was born there. According to staff at the Queensland Trust (which listed the lamington as a State icon recently), the true birthplace is difficult to determine. The key, they say, lies in the 900k who created it - a certain Armand Galant, Parisian pastry chef, employed by the Lamington family during his time in their employ. Monsieur Galant served batches of lamingtonsat a number of civil receptions; the batch brought out to Lord Lamington and his friends at Harlaxton House possibly just one of many. The first? No one will ever really know.

From article Oct 2006
By Susan Searle

Sweet success for dessert makers

A Toowoomba food technologist's famlly business aims to exceed the magical $1 million turnover mark next year. Mr Barry Smith and his eldest son Julian Lancaster-Smith, who created Quality Desserts only two years ago, believe their expectation Is more than realistic, particularly after filling Christmas orders for about 400,000 plum puddings. "The first 18 months were very lean, despite the long hours we put in, and there were a few times when we thought about pulling the pin, but there's always been something on the horizon which gave us encouragement to carry on," managing director Mr Smith said. Advice that the business would take two years to establish had proven accurate, and two months ago Quality Desserts was Incorporated as Denbrand pty Ltd. Mr Smith was a former chief chemist with Defiance. "All my working life I have developed and Introduced food. products Into the market place," he said. Julian, who Is a USQ graduate, is sales and marketing director, and his brother Bradley Is the production supervisor, Mr Smith said Quality Desserts was begun with the Intention of introducing Innovative products to fill market niches. "This has results in a number of firsts for Australia," he said. "For various reasons there have been a few changes in direction in the quest to become established, but the main hurdles were that of credibility and a distribution network." National recognition came after the Smith famlly travelled to the International Catering Trade Fair In Sydney last June and provided free samples of their products plum puddings, blueberry, chocolate and apple and spice muffins, liqueur puddings and gingerbread men. Manufacturing under contract took off "like a rocket", and the company now manufactures for five other companies as well as under the Quality Desserts brand. This year their plum puddings are being sold allover Australia, with some going overseas. To meet the Christmas demand, the staff of 26 Is working 24-hour days and six-day weeks: While many five-star hotels, resorts and restaurants on the eastern seaboard will have Quality Desserts puddings on the table this Christmas, the brand is only just starting to be recognised in Toowoomba. "We'd like to see more sales In our home town," Mr Smith said. Quality Desserts are distributed in Toowoomba by QIW and Provincial Distributors.

From article April 2000

Toowoomba gift for TV newlyweds takes the cake!

When two Toowoomba cooks board a Sydney-bound plane this afternoon, their cabin luggage may raise afew eyebrows. Instead of a bag or lap-top computer, Julian Lancaster-Smith and Brenton Thompson will be carrying a three-tier chocolate cake bound for the Nine Network's Footy Show tonight. Made locally at Quality Desserts,it will be a gift to Sydney couple Rosie Jarrett and Garry Miller, who are getting married on the show. The wedding proposal was made on the same show afew weeks ago. Next day, MrLancaster-Smith offered to donate the cake to the newlyweds. It sports a miniature bronze football and artificial yellow, purple and red gerberas each with small pictures ofFooty Show hosts Paul "Fatty" Vautin and Peter Sterling inserted. Four-hundred smaller cakes have already been sent for guests in the studio. Mr Thompson yesterday said the airline already knew of,their unusual cabin luggage. "We'll hold each layer separately on our laps and we'll just be happy to get it there in one piece," he said. But just in case the cake travels badly, he's taking an emergency kit.