By Casey Neill
Chef Tim Holland describes Dandenong Market as “a very real market”.
“There’s great stories behind all the traders,” he said.
“You feel like you’re walking through the world.”
It’s not a stylised market, he explained to a media walking tour on Friday 12 May.
It’s “really produce-driven”, multicultural, cool and a place where families buy their weekly groceries.
“It’s a real seasonal market,” he said.
“If you want to find the best stuff you’ve got to think seasonally.”
Mr Hollands took the group through the market’s six areas – the fruit and veg section; the Meat, Fish and Deli Hall; the Pantry; Market Square; the Terrace and the Bazaar.
A coffee from Cafe Valentina was the first stop, followed by fresh bread filled with spinach and cheese from Lebanese bakery Why Not?
Rhonda Tannous said the halloumi-heavy offering was the bakery’s best-seller.
“Growing up I always wanted to do something for myself,” she said.
She suggested the stall to husband Kamil and he replied with “yeah, why not?”.
They opened in 2011 and serve up traditional Lebanese pizza and pastries.
See Dandenong Market traders show off their skills.
Joza Hart is a second generation beekeeper and honey producer with about 600 hives.
His father was a beekeeper in Slovenia and continued the business when he moved his family to Australia in 1969.
Joza now runs Hart’s Honey and stocks unique honeys flavoured by the bees’ food source.
Batory Continental Deli specialises in Polish and Hungarian meats and sausages made by local butchers with all-Australian pork products.
“They have smoked ribs that are amazing with beer,” Mr Hollands said.
Sam’s Spice and Grocery stocks spices, flavourings and more from around the globe.
The tour bumped into Sam himself at one of his other three stalls, Peanut Market, which Mr Holland said stocked “every nut you can imagine”.
The group peeled and tasted hot roasted peanuts.
“They’re so simple but they’re so yummy,” Mr Holland said.
He said the South African sour sultanas were his current favourite product.
Fishmonger Dennis Schwarze has worked at Schwarze Seafood “pretty much since the day I was born”.
The stall is the market’s oldest, dating back to 1930.
Mr Holland said its seafood was 90 per cent Australian and 10 per cent New Zealand-sourced.
Mr Schwarze said to check fish for clear eyes, bright red gills, and firm and shiny flesh.
He’s the third generation of his family to run the business and hand-picks seafood from the wholesale market each day.
Dandee Donuts serves up 5000 doughnuts each day, cooked fresh in the van.
Maureen and Dick Bell established their business in their Oakleigh back yard in the late 1960s.
The stall has developed a loyal following since finding a permanent home at the market in the ’70s.
Former chef Lez Hirsch crushes Australian-grown sugar cane on the spot at Saccha Cane Juice.
He adds ginger, strawberries, pineapple, lemon, lime and more, and serves it hot or cold.
Lez told the group he grew his own cumquats, lemons and limes and bought other produce from the market.
The sugar cane pulp is used as mulch or animal feed.
Simply Sri Lanka served up kotthu, a shredded roti dish grilled on a hotplate with onion, leeks, carrots and eggs.
TaZa was the newest business on the tour. Its owner is a former Afghan refugee and serves tandoori bread, biriyani and charcoal kebabs.
The market runs free food discovery tours on select Tuesdays and Fridays. Bookings are essential on 9701 3850.