When he was about seven years old, Morgan Hipworth taught himself to cook. “I was watching MasterChef, and I thought, if they can do it, I can do it.”
Each night, Morgan made elaborate three-course dinners for his parents and grandparents, and would serve them in the front dining room of their home. “We had to be called up to Bistro Morgan,” jokes his mum, Ellie.
Morgan is now 14, and while Bistro Morgan still operates from the family home, the focus is less on dinners – although he still does all the cooking – and more on doughnuts. Since January this year, Bistro Morgan has been supplying cafes around Melbourne with cakes, slices, biscuits and doughnuts. He personally makes more than 700 of the latter per week. Chances are you’ve eaten one, or at least seen one. These dressed-up, deep-fried balls of sugared dough are hard to miss. But, even if you are well acquainted with Bistro Morgan’s doughnuts, you still probably didn’t know that the boy behind the batter is a Year 9 Caulfield Grammar student, who is currently juggling full-time school with a business that demands more than 50 hours of his week.
Ripponlea’s Hawk & Hunter cafe was Morgan’s first customer. He was there for brunch during the last Christmas holidays, and after mentioning to the staff that he baked, they encouraged him to bring in some samples. A few months later he picked up The Resident Cafe in Ashburton after he saw on Instagram that chef Justin Beilin was in the market for doughnuts. Morgan took a box there and Beilin was so impressed he placed his first order that same night.
Then came Pillar of Salt in Richmond, and “it all went crazy from there”. So crazy that he quickly had to invest in a massive stand mixer capable of mixing 200 doughnuts at once, and a deep fryer that could fry 24 at once, just so he could fill the orders of his now 13 customers (even with this increased productivity, there are at least another 15 cafes around Melbourne that are on the waiting list for his doughnuts).
Morgan is too young to drive, so Ellie helps out with deliveries. As the two walk into the various cafes, both laden with boxes of doughnuts with flavours such as white chocolate and macadamia, rocky road, peppermint crisp or a number of other varieties, people assume that Ellie has made them. “The perception is that mum makes them and I just go along for the deliveries,” says Morgan. But, Ellie confirms, this couldn’t be further from the truth. “I don’t cook at all. Sure, I help – I help pack, I help sugar the doughnuts while he’s continuing to cook, I drive him to deliveries … but he does the bulk of the work.”
He’s tried to push the majority of his business towards the weekend but there are still a few weekday orders to fill. Most mornings Morgan wakes up at 6am to fry, decorate and deliver doughnuts before getting to school. Orders for the following day will start coming in at around 3pm, so by the time he gets home he has a good idea of what he has to do that evening. “I try to get as much homework done at school as I can, so when I’m home I can concentrate on the business.” On Thursday night he starts prepping for the weekend’s orders by rolling out hundreds of balls of dough and leaving them to prove, so that the minute he gets home from school on Friday he can start to fry and decorate them. Then he has to roll out more for Saturday and Sunday’s orders. “There’s not much of a break,” he says.
Even with the overwhelming demand, Morgan won’t hire anyone to help. “If someone else does it, they’re not Bistro Morgan doughnuts. I touch every one, I make them all. I’d prefer to keep it artisan and smallish – if you can call 700 doughnuts a week small,” he says. “We’re getting better at it – sometimes we’re on the couch by 9pm on a Saturday.”
“When I’m older I want to open my own cafes and restaurants,” says Morgan. “But for now, I’ll just continue the way I’m going.”
Bistro Morgan stockists:
Hawk & Hunter (Ripponlea)
The Resident (Ashburton)
District Brewer (Bentleigh)
Pillar of Salt (Richmond)
Mr Brightside (Caulfield South)
Neon Tiger (Malvern)
Capital Kitchen (Chadstone)
Capital Kitchen (Malvern)
Oasis Bakery (Murrumbeena)
Cafe Largo (Brighton)
The Reverend Cafe (Ascot Vale)
Age of Sail (Tooronga Village)
Collin Chapel (Windsor)