When Frank Rieck moved from Germany to Australia in 1959, he smuggled in a sourdough starter that had been used in a small Bavarian bakery for generations.
Rieck calls it “the sour”, and it’s the same starter his mother used while she was the village baker in Lengmoos, a town between Munich and Salzburg.
Rieck began working with his mother in the bakery when he was 11 years old. At 13 he started working at a bakery in another village and came home to Lengmoos on the weekends. The recipes for his famed rye breads, Vienna loaves and pretzels are the same ones he learnt in Bavaria.
In 1959, when he was in his early-twenties, Rieck moved to Australia. He knew barely a word of English and had no connections in Australia. Rieck opened his bakery on Glenhuntly Road in the heart of Elsternwick in 1968. The shop – where he met his wife Elena when she was working there – remains largely unchanged.
A Jewish baker who worked with Rieck in the early days showed him how to make challah (a slightly sweet plaited loaf eaten on the Sabbath), and he still makes it every Friday for the Jewish community.