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Anna Polyviou is the self-confessed “Punk Princess of Pastry” with an infectious personality and eye-ogling sweet treats.
Regularly appearing on MasterChef Australia, the guest judge is always laughing, smiling and presenting some seriously tasty food.
“I did lose a lot of money at the start,” Polyviou said. “But then I sat back and thought, “OK, there’s a lot more people worse off them me”. I need to snap out of the emotional aspect and I thought, “how can I keep my fans happy?”
Her current project, a collaboration with Chargrill Charlie’s sees the “Punk Princess of Pastry” working with the popular family-owned business for their next instalment of “Local Flavours”, a community initiative supporting local businesses and chefs needing to sell their products during COVID-19.
For Polyviou, it was not only a chance for her to create a mouthwatering triple choc cookie dough but a chance to give people premium product at home, at an affordable price.
“When we costed our cookie dough, we wanted to do really premium ingredients,” Polyvious said. “We didn’t want to do something that was really cheap, we want to make sure families out there are having high-quality products during these times.”
We chatted to Polyviou — alongside CEO of Chargrill Charlie’s Saul Katz — about their collaboration and also how she has been keeping busy during these uncertain times.
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?ON SALE NOW? available @chargrillcharlies $15 a tub… I’ve Collaborated with @chargrillcharlies to bring LOCAL FLAVOURS to the people of Sydney & Melbourne… on SALE NOW… BEST MOTHERS DAY PRESENT… now who wants a TUB… #cookie #cookies #annapolyviou #localflavours #community #fun #tasty #pastry #yum #yumyum #chocolate #collab #family #saulyourock?
Anita Lyons: Hi Anna, it’s so great to chat! Tell me about this new initiative with Chargrill Charlie’s.
Anna Polyviou: Chargrill Charlie’s is an institution. They’ve got a large fan-base and it’s a family-run business. They want other families within our community to feel the love and support the community.
Chargrill Charlie’s are really investing in the local community and it’s not about “profile” at all. It’s about how can we help people, chef’s and that is such a nice thing. They’ve been so generous with not only me, but my team as well, and that’s just priceless. We felt wanted and I think you can’t put a price tag on that.
Even my friend Michael from Kepos Street Kitchen — he was really struggling and they reached out to him and then he knew I was struggling a little bit as well, and then he reached out to me. Everyone is trying to help each other. You can’t take that away from it.
They’re family. They’re really thinking about the community and it’s a priceless gesture.
Sean Katz: We’re helping Anna, but by helping Anna, we’re keeping our staff employed. We’re keeping our chef’s employed and then we’re keeping the suppliers employed. So, we’re connecting the whole loop. We’re trying to go through the whole supply chain and help as many people as we can.
“Everyone is trying to help each other. You can’t take that away from it. They’re family. They’re really thinking about the community and it’s a priceless gesture.”
AL: What other projects did you have in the works before the coronavirus hit?
AP: We were packed. We had a trip to Indonesia and then we had a trip to India. We had events lined up.
We actually knew what was going on slightly earlier than everyone else because of the Shangri-La. On January 14, they implemented gloves, masks, sanitation and also temperature checks before we even walked into the establishment. We thought, ‘OK, this is getting a bit weird. What’s going to happen?’
And we started to get a feel for what was happening around us and obviously seeing what was happening in China, we knew it was going to slow down. We just didn’t think it was going to be so rapid. It all happened within 24 hours.
Everyone was sitting at home watching the TV going ‘What’s going on? What’s next?’
“They implemented gloves, masks, sanitation and also temperature checks before we even walked into the establishment. We thought, ‘OK, this is getting a bit weird. What’s going to happen?'”
AL: What was 2020 going to mean for you?
AP: We wanted it to be our biggest year yet. We wanted to make sure we were more out there and I always wanted my own TV show, because I think our video content would really work for that.
AL: I’ve been loving your video content!
AP: It’s just so fun! Have you noticed that I’m just using what’s in my pantry? I’m not using all of the expensive stuff. Yes, I have different quality things, because I’m lucky enough to be exposed to that but I’m using what I’ve got lying around the house.
We did this banana bread the other day and it was a massive hit because I used a product lying around that wasn’t doing great.
Focaccia — I didn’t use all of these toppings on top, I just use garlic, olive oil and rosemary.
We made them fun so that people not only have a recipe but also some good entertainment and it’s funny.
We’re doing a live video on Mother’s Day. We’re doing live on Insta, how to make scones.
AL: What have you been doing to pivot your business and work around the shortfall?
AP: We’ve really had to reassess the brand. For me, it was really important that we keep the brand alive. I didn’t want to just stay home and do nothing. That was really important to me, so we focused on creating the videos.
Chargrill Charlie’s is huge for us because it goes out to 14 different stores and one in Melbourne but it was also about my team.
I’m also writing a cookbook at the same time. I’m cooking these recipes so why don’t I write them down. I get to feed the general public and it has made me realise that we just need to go back to basics — what people like to learn.
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INGREDIENTS ?500g Flour, plain ?400ml Water, Warm ?7g Dry Yeast ?100ml Olive Oil ?Sea Salt, Rosemary, Garlic HOW TO ? Place the yeast into the water & stir it till mix together ? In an electric machine hook attachment place flour into it, turn to medium speed gradually add water once combined mix till comes off the bowl ? Oil bowl, place dough in, cover allow to prove 4hrs ? Pre-Heat oven 220c, oil tray, place dough into drizzle oil, crushed garlic, salt & rosemary bake for 10-12mins till golden #focaccia #annapolyviou #isolation #iso #bake #pastrychef #annasfoodselfies #instagram #instagood ? @ksea_sunshine
AL: I love that the recipes, including the cookie dough, is perfect for families to do at home together. Why is it a good time to bake in the kitchen with your kids during the pandemic?
AP: I think it’s a form of bonding. I think that it’s really important and people are really struggling to wonder what to do because they can’t go out. The kitchen is an area that you can go to. I always say it’s a “destination” within the household. So, I think it’s nice to be able to do that.
It’s just about getting in the kitchen together as a family.
“The kitchen is an area that you can go to. I always say it’s a “destination” within the household. So, I think it’s nice to be able to do that.”
AL: How can people support the industry in the short term?
SK: Buy local and keep supporting the people in the industry. If you’ve got a favourite café, go get a coffee and buy one of the pastries you’ve never bought before.
Check out Instagram and see what businesses are around and see how everyone is adapting.
AP: If you don’t have the funds, pick up the phone and call or text someone you know may need to hear from you. Just make sure they are OK.
Chargrill Charlie’s has joined forces with pastry powerhouse, Anna Polyviou for the next instalment of ‘Local Flavours’, their community initiative supporting local businesses and chefs needing to sell their products during COVID-19.
Anna has created a mouthwatering triple choc cookie dough, with simple instructions on how to bake it at home.
Priced at $15, the cookie dough will be available to purchase as a 600g tub at all 14 Chargrill Charlie’s stores across Sydney and Melbourne from Friday 8 May.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.