News

Meet Maria Jose Ramos

Supporting the Community

For many years Heather Brae Shortbreads has supported the local community by offering internships to selected students from the Food Science & Technology Degree at RMIT University. The students get to work with the Product Development and QA Team. Some of their projects include NPD process, production trials, QA Documentation, artwork & working with our customers & suppliers.


Meet Maria Jose Ramos (QA Intern)

My name is Maria and I am from a tiny but beautiful country named Guatemala!. I have almost finished my internship at Heather Brae Shortbreads. I have been working as part of the Product Development Team and it has been such an adventure.  I enjoy the music playing in the kitchen while my mentor Shane and I develop the ideas that later become super products.  Behind every product, there are ideas, passion, love, and hard work from the developer, and that is why I love to be a Product Developer (it is such a rollercoaster). 

I started my career a few years ago in my country.  I am a Chemical Engineer and one day I dreamt of completing my Masters in Food Science & Technology at RMIT University in Melbourne.  I worked hard to make my dream come true and here I am living it.  

My mantra is “live every day as it was your last day” That is why the Heather Brae Team sometimes catch me singing, dancing, and always laughing.  My Mentor calls me Maria the Crazy Mexican!!

Apart from being a Product Developer, I also love sports and adventure. I play Softball, and my favourite positions are first base and catcher.  I am an adrenaline addict and I am always seeking great adventures (Australia is a fantastic place for this). Melbourne has taught me more than anything about life, and I will always be thankful for this opportunity. 

My internship is almost finished, but I have created such a special bond with the Heather Brae Team! I want to continue as a Product Developer all my life!  

My dream is to create products with a meaning that can help consumer health and wellbeing. 

Meet Yasi (QA Intern)

Supporting the Community

For many years Heather Brae Shortbreads has supported the local community by offering internships to selected students from the Food Science & Technology Degree at RMIT University.  The students get to work with the Product Development and QA Team.  Some of their projects include:  NPD process, production trials, QA Documentation, artwork & working with our customers & suppliers. 

Meet Yasi (QA Intern)

My name is Yasasvini Gangadhari Jayasinghe (I know! What were my parents thinking!). Everyone calls me Yasi. For the past few months, I have been working with the extremely talented Quality Assurance and Product Development team at Heather Brae Shortbreads and it has been a wonderful journey. I was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka, aka, “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. In 2016, I first came to Melbourne and fell in love with its diverse culture, various foods, and beautiful wildlife. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology at Monash University, Malaysia, and will be completing my Master’s degree at RMIT University, Melbourne in a few weeks. 

Here are a few facts about myself:

  • I do admit I can be quite a nerd and may seem silent, and calm when you first meet me. But wait until you get to know me! I will eventually become the talkative colleague with whom you can share a laugh with. 
  • I chose Food Science by following my father’s footsteps and being the daughter of a brewmaster, you could say that I was born into the field. My fascination with how random ingredients react together to form our favorite foods intensified my desire to study the subject further.
  • I love being introduced to new foods of different cultures and traveling has always been a passion of mine. But, during my spare time, I prefer to watch a movie or crawl into bed with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. 
  • I am a fair chess player! I was introduced to the game as a 6-year-old and since then have participated in countless tournaments. Apart from that, I also have gained merits in Netball, and Athletics. 
  • I hope to one day develop my own food brand and I also wish to contribute to the scientific field by discovering novel methods to help reduce world hunger. Therefore, to realise these dreams, I wish to continue my studies further, while also gaining the much-needed practical experience in the field of food production. 

Have you met our new Quality Assurance Assistant Anu?

Have you met our new Quality Assurance Assistant Anu?

Name:: Anupama Srinivas
Everyone calls me: Anu

I am the new Quality Assurance Assistant at Heather Brae Shortbreads. Let me tell you a few things about myself: I was born in India and came to Australia with my parents when I was 3 years old. I lived here for 7 years. During the time I was here my family and I became Australian citizens. I then returned to Australia when I was 22 and I pretty much think this is home for me. FOOD has always been my passion, whether it’s comparing food from different countries, cooking it, or trying new kinds of food. I am also about to complete my Master’s in Food Science and Technology from RMIT University. Some fast facts about me: People who know me always come to me for advice on where to eat and what to try. I love being that person because I think that’s my inner Anu waiting to come out! Everyone at work assumed that I was quiet at first, but they now know that I am quite the conversationalist. I might look like I don’t eat much but let me tell you I DO. When I’m not working or studying I love to dance. I am a trained Indian classical dancer in a dance form called Kathak. Famous for its vigorous footwork and continuous spins. Throughout my twelve years of training, I have performed on many different stages and I still manage to get stage fright! hahaha, Poetry is truly my go-to place when I want to express my feelings. I am a true believer of positivity, magic being all around us, and gratefulness. You will almost always catch me hanging around in my fave jeans and t-shirt. I am pretty girly too – I love unicorn quotes and sparkles and rom coms! Yep, romcomsThis may sound super weird however but my favorite color is brown. It just feels so warm, like the soil, like chocolate, like cinnamon and almonds. YUMI. aspire to continually learn about flavors and eventually become a product technologist or flavors one day. In the future, I would like to start my own dance school and pursue my passions for dance and food at the same time. Amongst all the chaos happening in the world at the moment, I still feel like the luckiest person to have everything go my way and always have a reason to feel blessed

Have you met our Managing Director here at Heather Brae Shortbreads?

Have you met our Managing Director here at Heather Brae Shortbreads?

Well here’s some fast facts to get started!

. Name: Bassam Wakim

. Known as: Bass

. Migrated with his family as a 6 year old from Lebanon in 1965

. Loves: Sport

. Barracks for Carlton & Collingwood (not sure that is even legal)

. Interests are: spending time with his family, skiing, fishing & eating with family & friends. 

. As a junior, played Aussie Rules footy for local club Clifton Hill YCW.  Starting position was in the ruck, but his prime position was Centre Half Forward.  However at a height of 5’9” he finished his footy career in the back pocket.  Boasts 2 Premiership flags and one Club Trophy.

. He also was a very good junior in Athletics.  Strongest events were the 400m, shot put and discus.  He represented his school St Thomas’ CBC in the All Schools CBC State Champs and claimed the Titles for Shot Put & Discus in his final year.

. In his late teens he then focused his sporting interests to canoe racing with the local Fairfield Canoe Club where he and his family are still members.  This proved to be when his elite athletic talent unfolded.  Over a period of 7 years he was committed to high level training and competition.  This would involve at least 2 training sessions every day and competition all over Australia and overseas.

. Bass is proud to have gained National team selection and has represented Australia on 3 occasions at the 1982, 1983 and 1985 World Championships.  He was unlucky to miss out on the 1984 LA Olympics.  His best result placing 13th in C2 in the 1985 World Championships in Mechelen, Belgium.

. After retiring from competition he turned his hand to coaching and assisting 3 club athletes to attain National selection in the same sport. 

. With a group of former canoeists they then formed the Melbourne Dragon Boat Team which was sponsored by Heather Brae Shortbreads.  They went on to win many Victorian and Australian Titles in the Dragon Boat Championships.  They also competed all over the world at Sporting and Cultural Championships mostly in Asia but also New Zealand and Canada. Bass’ highlight was competing on the Yangtze River in China just prior to when the Three Gorges Dam was built. This event was in front of a crowd of 100,000 spectators.  He also competed in the World Dragon Boat Championships in Sydney where the team got a silver in the master’s class.

. He has always enjoyed snow skiing as a hobby whenever he can get to the mountains.  He still enjoys it with his family and his children whom are heavily involved in the sport today.

2020 Industry Excellence Awards

Kym Raphael Apprentice of the Year – Bakery

This award was sponsored by Heather Brae Shortbreads and presented on stage by their Managing Director Bass Wakim at Kangan Institute’s Annual Industry Excellence Awards in February this year.

High Quality Gift Range

 

Baked Muesli Bars

Baked Muesli Bars

Our Baked Muesli Bars are now available in over six varieties and a
selection of sizes. They are both yummy and healthy.

 

We are Crackers about Crackers

We are Crackers about Crackers

Heather Brae has now included Savoury Crackers as part of our
production capability. This range is commencing with Oat Crackers and Twice Baked Seed Crackers

 

National Ethnic Business Awards Finalist

Heather Brae was very honoured and proud to have been a finalist in the Ethnic Business Awards in 2015. The prestigious national awards celebrate outstanding business success and human endeavour, and in 2018 is in their 30th year……

 

Entrants for these awards must be either Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents born overseas. Our Managing Director, Bass Wakim emigrated to Australia in 1965 with his mother and five siblings.

Please read the EBA media release from 2nd October 2015 below:

“Heather Brae Shortbreads – Bassam Wakim – Thomastown – VIC
Coming to Australia by ship in 1965 with his mother and five siblings, a six-year-old Bassam struggled as a migrant child.  Melbourne was a far cry from his rural upbringing in Lebanon.  After 10 years in civil engineering, Bassam and his wife bought a small, struggling company, building its workforce from 12 to 40. Heather Brae now supplies all supermarkets in Australia, as well as exporting to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaysia”.

Gala Presentation Ceremony in Adelaide on November 6, 2015 –

Joseph Assaf AM and Bass accepting Certificate

Joseph Assaf AM, Founder & Chairman Ethnic Business Awards presenting Bass Wakim, Managing Director, Heather Brae with Finalist Certificate.

Bass smiling

Bass Wakim enjoying the evening

Bass and daughter Jalili

Bass and daughter Jalili

 

 

Melbourne biscuit company bucking food industry trendTony Eastley reported this story on the ABC AM radio program and ABC news 24

tony eastley ABC
Tony Eastley: It’s not all doom and gloom in the food industry – some companies are bucking the trend. You can still find Australian made goods on the supermarket shelves.
Family run company Heather Brae began in 1941. It sent biscuits to the Australian Diggers overseas and it’s still making biscuits, tarts and shortbread in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. You can hear the factory line behind me.
Bassam Wakim is the company’s managing director. He says, unlike car makers, he doesn’t get government handouts.
Bassam Wakim: Look, it’s very tough and it gets tougher each year. I know of a number of similar biscuit manufacturers that have gone into administration in the last four years, so it is quite tough, but we’ve been fortunate to have good growth. We’ve had 20% growth in the last year.
Tony Eastley: Those people that have gone broke, what happened to them and their workers?

Bassam Wakim: Most of them have been bought out by larger companies and, from what I understand, even they are still struggling a year later.

Tony Eastley: You say you are ahead of the game and you are growing. How do you manage to do that?

Bassam Wakim: We need to be innovative. We’ve got a full time person that just does product development for us. I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. We’re always looking out for new ideas, new products just to stay ahead.

Tony Eastley: Are you confident about the future?

Bassam Wakim: Yes I am. I have children and I’m confident that one day I could hand all this over to them.

Tony Eastley: Other food manufacturers have gone by the wayside. What lessons have you got for those who are suffering?

Bassam Wakim: We have stuck to our core business, which is biscuit and cookie manufacturing. We haven’t ventured into other areas. We’ve reinvested, we’ve trained our people, but probably most importantly we’ve been able to understand our costings.
These days there’s a lot of criticism of the supermarkets, but if suppliers can’t supply the supermarkets at the price they want they need to walk away. I think a lot of the problems others have had were in supplying products at no, or little profit margin.

Tony Eastley: And in a way you go against the grain of common thought and that is you’re nor exporting.

Bassam Wakim: You are right, currently we are doing little in export. I feel that there are still very good opportunities for us in the Australian domestic marketplace, and that is our main focus. But that isn’t to say we are not trying to do more in the export markets. We are hoping to close off two new export contracts in the next 6 months.

Tony Eastley: The managing director of Heather Brae there.