Meet The Locals: Avalon’s Entrepreneurial Bakers, Viet And Sandy Dang

By Jonathan Fletcher

Have you ever dropped into Graze N Cakes at North Avalon?

It’s a sweet little cafe/bakery/food-haven owned and run by husband-and-wife team Viet and Sandy Dang. Tuesday to Saturday you will find this local hub buzzing with families, tradies and neighbourhood coffee lovers, pausing for a morning treat or a fresh Vietnamese lunch. Viet and Sandy have won a devoted local following, which doesn’t surprise me as I’ve experienced the joy my kids get when we take them into graze N cakes for a ‘unicorn poo’ and a hot chocolate.

I had a chat to Viet and Sandy about Avalon and their uniquely beloved cakes and food.

You were Cammeray Cakes previously, what brought you north to Avalon?

We were chasing the dream in Cammeray for nine years. As our kids – now teenagers – were growing older and bigger, living in the inner city did not fit our perceptions of the Australian way of life. We wanted neighbours who said G’day, sun, surf and beaches! So, Avalon fitted the brief – it was actually recommended by many of our tradesmen customers at Cammeray. We took the plunge for our family’s sake and moved here in 2017. So far, everything is better than good!

What do you enjoy most about living and working in Avalon ?

What is there not to like? Apart from the obvious beach life, people here are determined to live a good, meaningful and productive life, and this is what we also strive to achieve.

So, what’s on the menu at Graze N Cakes?

In addition to cakes and baked goods, GNC’s lunch menu includes Bánh mì and rice paper rolls. Our Vietnamese background gives it a twist, but we are more Australian than Vietnamese. Our bespoke cakes are decorated to our customers’ whims, and limited only by cost and creativity. Cakes for us are the centerpiece of any celebration. A true indication of how good a cake is, is when people are wowed by the way it looks and it is eaten down to the crumbs. So far, we have had positive responses on both counts! Our weekend cake bookings are limited to four to five orders to ensure the care and quality of each cake.

Tell me a bit about your professional backgrounds?

Viet is a pastry cook by trade and has worked at the Hilton, Delifrance, Harry’s Cafe de Wheels and Royal Sydney Golf Club to name a few. He also spent three years at a boarding school in Goulburn, giving him an appreciation for church ladies’ bakes! Sandy has been involved in hospitality for a long time too, working at Delifrance, Stargrill, Rockpool Events & Catering and, most recently, she spent 16 years at Qantas as a First-Class long-haul Flight Attendant.

What’s your food philosophy? I understand you don’t use single use plastics and your food waste goes to the community gardens at Barrenjoey High School?

The ethos of GNC is ‘there are no rules’ – just good food from the small footprint we inhabit. We often run out, and our regular customers are disappointed, but they appreciate our clean foods rotated fast. Nothing sits for long.

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day is full of preparing and baking as we make lots of our products on site. Then there’s coffee calibrations, fixing the world’s problems with our customers over coffee, lunch rush until we run out and, before you know it, it’s time to pick up our kids.

What are your best sellers?

The cronuts and roast pork belly baguettes are best sellers to tradesmen. The chocolate chip cookies and chicken bone broth are best sellers to the surfies. Lemongrass tofu and buckwheat treats are for the growing numbers of sensitive beings on the peninsula. The unicorn poos pander to those who believe in mythical creatures that poop rainbows – this is our homage to the child in us all.

What’s your personal favourite?

The watermelon and lychee trifle that we make when watermelons are in season.

Future plans?

Our plan is to evolve to suit the changing demographics that we have been seeing over the past two years we’ve been in Avalon.

You can find Graze N Cakes at 3/38 Burrawong Road, Avalon.

If you would like to know more about the North Avalon property market, or are looking to buy or sell, give me a call today.

Photos by: Evan Gauci @therustydingo