International flavour a winner

03:09, Nov 12 2012
franz lieber
BAKER: Franz Lieber of the Fairlie Bakehouse.

How did the Fairlie Bakehouse come about?

My stepson, Chris Taylor, found the place and we started it up three years ago. I had been working for the Mackenzie Corporation, which has hotels and restaurants in Omarama, Tekapo and Twizel. I was working over 100 hours a week and thought if I was working those sort of hours I may as well be doing them for myself.

Where did you become a chef?

In Austria. Austria is known for its hospitality. The training was tough. Long hours for low pay, but it made you very disciplined.

Why did you come to New Zealand?

I was working as a chef in Rotterdam, and I worked with someone who had worked here. It made me want to come. I kept applying for jobs and eventually got a job as a chef at the Hermitage in 1979. I loved the area.


Where else have you worked?

All over the place, Te Anau, Tongariro, Waitangi. We owned a lodge in Nelson and I was also an executive chef at the Chateau on the Park in Christchurch. In 1990 I started a bakery in Arrowtown that is still going now. I was probably a bit young then to persevere.

What are the main differences between working in Austria and working in New Zealand?

Attitude and work ethic. New Zealand is a lot more laid back; I like that to some degree which is why I have stayed. When I started my own business I had to go back to the good habits I had learned.

How many hours do you work?

Start at 2am to 5.30pm, six days a week. When we first started Chris and I didn't have a day off for nine months. I'm in bed by 7.30pm, I don't really have a work-life balance. I don't really do anything else except a bit of gardening and have two pet calves. I like working, my family think I am a workaholic, I don't really have a social life but do waffle on to the customers though. I don't really think about the hours; working 16 hours a day feels no different to working eight hours.

My wife is Australian, I met her in Wellington. She has been pretty understanding and put up with me working long hours, so has my daughter.

Have you enjoyed living in Fairlie? We already had a holiday house here so we quite enjoy it. My mother-in-law has even moved here.

What have been the challenges?

The biggest challenge was the bank but they are OK now. When we started it was during the financial crisis.

What have been the highlights?

Winning the people's choice award at the Business Excellence Awards.

Where to from here?

We want to get into wholesaling. We are building a factory to make gourmet pies which we will sell all over the place.


Name: Franz Lieber Age? 56

Where did you grow up? In Austria, near where Arnold Schwarzenegger comes from.

What is your favourite food? I am quite easygoing when I go out for a meal; I really like fresh fish.

What is your favourite song? I don't listen to music. When I trained you weren't allowed music in the kitchen and I just got used to it.

What are you proudest of? Keeping my health, I am a little bit health-conscious. I don't drink because I have seen so many drunken chefs and seen what alcohol does to them. I think that is why I still have so much energy.

The Timaru Herald