Zoe Tulleners, Co-founder, Alphabet Cafe

Success is reaching your goals without stepping on people to do so ...

Sink your chompers into one of Alphabet Cafe’s apple cider doughnuts or crack into an orange blossom and almond meringue and you’ll no doubt be joining the mob of devoted sweet tooths who throng to the popular market stall every weekend. After working in hospitality since they were teenagers, sisters Zoe and Meghan Tulleners, alongside business manager Martin Cook, launched Alphabet Cafe in July last year. The bakers have as much imagination as they do skill, whipping up an impressive array of sweets and savouries, and hopping between fresh food markets at Boundary Street, Eagle Farm and Boggo Road Gaol. Harbouring a long-term dream to open their own round-the-clock diner, the Tulleners sisters will spend 2014 dabbling in event catering, pop-up shops and wholesale distribution. Ahead of an appearance at Eagle Farm Markets this Sunday, Zoe took a break to chat to The Weekend Edition about her baking inspirations and the future of Alphabet Cafe.

You launched Alphabet Cafe in July last year, can you tell us a bit about its early beginnings?
We wanted to create baked goods that were a little different to most other offerings. We also wanted to share the food we love to eat with everyone and make them all gloriously plump!

We’ve eyed off your chai meringues, triple-coconut cupcakes and passionfruit melting moments … What other devilishly good treats are on offer?
Our menu changes every week and we post it on our Facebook and Instagram accounts. Our range includes pies, brownies, cakes, pastries, whoopies, meringues, tarts, cookies and pudding cups. We always offer three gluten-free options and we always use free-range eggs and couverture chocolate, and we love to use seasonal fruits.

What has been your most popular item to date?
Our gluten-free limoncello tart with fresh fruits.

Which is your personal favourite?
I love our bourbon pecan slice and Meghan’s favourite is the tres leches.

Some say you should never mix family and business, but it looks like the Tulleners sisters are proving that adage false. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of working with family?
The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages! We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we work well together.

You’ve been one of Wandering Cooks’ longest-standing customers, how has the Brisbane incubator nurtured your business?
The facilities at Wandering Cooks are awesome. Equally as great is having founder Angela Hirst there to support us – she’s beyond helpful and great to run ideas by.

What are your plans for the future of the business?
Ultimately, we’d love to open a diner, serving quality, delicious food at good prices 24/7.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt in the kitchen?
Don’t fall apart when things fall apart!

Can you let us in on your best baking tip?
Always cream butter and sugar for longer than you think.

Who are some local growers, makers or venues we should be checking out?
Bee One Third neighbourhood honey, Picklehead Pickles and John Mills Himself in Brisbane City.

If you could bake a treat for anyone in the world, who would you choose and what would you cook?
I’d make brownies for pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, and Meghan would whip up French toast for Pee-wee Herman!

What’s your dream musical soundtrack for baking?
We’re eclectic. Anything from early Michael Jackson to the Beastie Boys and of course some Lady Gaga!

What inspires your creative tinkering in the kitchen?
Our recent holiday to America, family and friends, cookbooks and blogs.

The last time something took your breath away was … The beurre blanc at Montrachet in Paddington.

What was your childhood dream?
To be an artist.

What is success to you?
Success is being happy and content. It’s reaching your goals without stepping on people to do so.

What are your words of wisdom?
‘A flute with no holes is not a flute. And a donut with no hole is a Danish …’ ~ Caddyshack.

Only a local would know … The best ricotta cannoli is from Dolci Sapori in Clayfield.

Perk up …
 Vietnamese iced coffee from Cafe O-Mai, Annerley.
Relax … Roma Street Parkland.
Dine … e’cco bistro, Brisbane City.
Indulge … Jelly doughnut from Brewbakers, Albion.
Catch-up … Friends’ houses.
Be inspired … The baking section of Dymocks.


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