15 June 2022

Wagga's cookie connoisseurs join Adelong Winter Bites Festival for bushfire relief

| Anna Maskus
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Meredith West smiling and standing in a field wearing a pink tshirt

Read the t-shirt! Meredith West worked as a marketing and business development coordinator at a local law firm before giving up the 9-to-5 to follow her dream. Photo: VisitWagga.

Meredith West of the beloved Wagga cookie establishment Dough Re Mi is excited to see what the future has in store – and she doesn’t have to look very far down the road.

She is taking her creative baking business out of the office and into the community to help those still struggling with the financial aftershocks of the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19 lockdowns.

“We moved into this space literally three weeks before lockdown,” Meredith says of her Fitzmaurice Street shopfront, where mascot Henry – an enormous pink unicorn – stands guard.

Henry is currently braving the Wagga winter with a pride-flag-cum-horse-rug.

“Oh my god, it’s so funny. People ask ‘where’s your shop?’ and I say, ‘it’s the one with the unicorn out the front’. Then they say, ‘what unicorn?’ – guys, he’s massive!” Meredith exclaims.

Henry joined the Dough Re Mi crew to celebrate the brick-and-mortar shop’s opening in 2020, but the business has been around for much longer.

READ ALSO The journey from organic wheat to licorice, chocolate and whisky

In 2016 Meredith and her best friend Jessie braved a freezing cold April day to run a barbecue fundraiser at Bunnings. By the end of the day the two friends had only made $300.

“I thought ‘stuff this, this is just ridiculous’,” she says.

“So in the car on the way home, we realised, ‘we both love to bake, let’s just do a bake sale’. Then that thought turned into ‘stuff doing a fundraiser, let’s just start a business’.”

Meredith noted that no other businesses in Wagga were offering cookies – not only as a cheeky snack but as an art form, a marketing tool and personalised gifts.

Henry standing proud in his designated spot next to the bridge joining Baylis and Fitzmaurice Street. Photo: Dough Re Mi Instagram.

Henry standing proud in his designated spot next to the bridge joining Baylis and Fitzmaurice Streets. Photo: Dough Re Mi Instagram.

After 12 months, Jessie moved on to other projects and Meredith has run Dough Re Mi solo ever since.

The self-proclaimed ‘Cookie Crew’ have run market stalls all over the country, including Trove Market in Bendigo, Henty Machinery Field Days, Handmade in Canberra and River & Wren Markets at the Wagga Wagga Showground.

Their next stop is the Winter Bites Festival in Adelong.

The Festival began as a community effort to support local businesses heavily impacted by the bushfires of summer 2019/20.

The southwest slopes of NSW were heavily impacted by the merging of the Dunns Road, East Ournie Creek and Green’s Valley fires – the three blazes joined to create a ‘mega-fire, which burnt through 600,000 ha (about 1.5 million acres) of land.

The Festival is spread across three days in three locations on the South West Slopes most affected by the fires – Adelong, Tumbarumba and Batlow. After the latter two were postponed due to COVID, the Festival has rebooted to provide continued support to the region.

“Obviously being the Winter Bites Festival, we have a similar theme for our cookies. We’ve got a winter-themed kangaroo, emu and koala,” Meredith says.

“What we’re doing at Adelong is little hand-painted cookies. Grown ups will remember those watercolour books you would have as a kid – imagine those, but with edible paint.

“The kids can paint a cookie and then – if they can – wait until it dries to eat it. While the cookies are drying, they get to decorate a cute little box to take it home in.”

READ ALSO Five minutes with Mr and Mrs Bahri, Vanilla Pod Food & Espresso Bar

As well as cookies, the Adelong festival boasts a selection of local beer, wine, cider and spirits, grass-fed lamb and beef, doughnuts and pizza.

Australian country music star Kasey Chambers will perform alongside other local musicians while local vendors share their carefully created food and drinks with visitors.

Meredith explains the only downside to her business is the unconscious thought of would-be customers that if something looks good, it can’t taste as good.

“We can absolutely do both,” she says.

“We’re not just bakers; we’re all about making things in a creative space. You start with a cookie that is completely white and blank and you can create whatever you want.”

The littlest visitors to the Festival will undoubtedly take her artistic advice on board.

Tickets are essential to attend the Winter Bites Festival, find out more here.

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