[box_tip]MakMak has since opened a shopfront at 601 King Street, Newtown![/box_tip]

I was so excited when I first discovered MakMak. It felt like I had just stumbled across the source that was supplying to a secret society of macaron connoisseurs.

The macaron craze has been going on for quite some years now and the guerilla concept behind MakMak’s business roots just shows that the demand for macarons isn’t slowing down!

Their flavours are wildly intriguing – my favourites are the pavlova, the black sesame and the raisin toast. And since learning that the founders behind MakMak are only in their mid 20’s, I just had to meet these two young enterprising foodies.

MakMak Macarons - close up stack

MakMak was launched in April 2010 (Happy one year birthday guys!) after Carlos Heng and Chia Wei Leong saw this article in Gourmet Traveller in 2009 and became obsessed with perfecting variations of the recipe.

Carlos is an ex-chef who says he left the restaurant industry because he was in a different head space and didn’t enjoy the restrictiveness. Chia on the other hand has a degree in science, majoring in statistics and worked briefly in that field. Chia says that despite his professional career with numbers, he had always been passionate about food.

The duo met in high school in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) but followed separate paths. In a case of pure serendipity, they both discovered 3 – 4 years later, that they were in fact now both based in Sydney!
MakMak Macarons - pile of macarons and afternoon tea

The idea for MakMak was conceived after countless challenges between the two to produce the best macarons. Hundreds of swapped macarons later, they saw value in merging efforts, and business began operating from Carlos’ Newtown home. Their fascination with creating exquisite bold-flavoured macarons now had commercial legs to produce the best macarons in Australia.

One month into business, MakMak won first prize in the BGF (Bobby Goldsmith Foundation) Bake-Off which confirmed their beliefs that they had potential.

MakMak Macarons - afternoon treat

I asked Carlos and Chia about their most memorable business milestones. They gave me three ๐Ÿ™‚

The first being in October 2010, where they were referred through a connection on Twitter to Via Del Corso Pasticceria e Caffรฉ. It was their first wholesale client and the order numbers really challenged their production capabilities. At one stage, they went from producing 300 macarons per week to 2000 per week!

The second milestone was later in December 2010; they scored a large order from Fairfax media for 1200 macarons to be used as thank you gifts.

And in January 2011, MakMak Macarons was briefly mentioned in a review of Duke Bistro, where their macarons can be found. It turns out that Carlos used to work with Mitch Orr, who is now a chef at Duke.

MakMak Macarons by Carlos Heng and Chia Leong

Both Carlos and Chia agree that while establishing and operating the business has
been a giant learning curve, it was extremely helpful to be able to use Carlos’ network for support. For example, getting insider knowledge on
suppliers, receiving referrals from online connections and having ex-colleagues
sell their macarons in their cafes/bistros/restaurants.

I can’t help but admire their savviness. This is the way Gen Y does business.

They operate from home (and also have access to a commercial kitchen) to keep costs down.

They make deliveries personally to your doorstep with a hired GoGet car – wholesale deliveries, for example, to Via Del Corso who are in Westfield Sydney, are also done by themselves via public transport.

And when sourcing for ingredients, they look locally and are careful with assessing the consistency and quality of ingredients.

The MakMak kitchen now pumps out 1000+ macarons each week. Sometimes they work 9am – 5pm and at other times they can finish as late as 3am. During the Christmas peak they operated 80 hours a week!

a full box of MakMak Macarons

I was also curious to see how many macarons these sweet-toothed boys actually eat on a daily basis. They giggle and admit that at the beginning, they were eating up to six macarons a day but now stop at two.

This blog post wouldn’t be complete without a low down on the flavours would it?

The flavours are seasonal so here’s the current range –

Pavlova: This one is a summer party in your mouth! The burst of passionfruit and mango jelly at the centre of the coconut ice is a lovely surprise.

Raisin Toast: Lightly spiced shell with a rum and raisin buttercream centre. It sounds like the strangest combination but goes oh-so-well together!

Salted Caramel: Dulce de leche and Appleton rum with Maldon sea salt flakes spread onto a plain meringue shell. Sea salt and caramel is an irresistible combination that has been translated magnificently onto these lush macarons.

Black Sesame: Gorgeous contrast of sweet and savoury, the flavour of black sesame is striking but not overpowering. It reminds me of the Chinese black sesame dessert soup!

Strawberry Shortcake: Another one with a burst of jelly (strawberry this time). I was delighted to learn that this flavour features a native bush herb called strawberry gum.

Lemon: MakMak’s lemon flavour is the best I’ve tasted yet (it features a touch of lemon myrtle). There’s a real lemony tart/sour taste that is reminiscent of Warheads.

Peppermint and Dark Chocolate: The pairing of peppermint and chocolate is an oldie but a goodie. It is inspired by the Arnotts Mint Slice and is made with organic peppermint tea. I love the refreshing minty contrast.

Gianduja: For nut-fanatics, this flavour combines 4 different nuts! Peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds and macadamias. So nutty, so good!

Two exciting new flavours are also launching for Easter week – hot cross macarons and milk chocolate peanut butter! I can’t wait to try the peanut butter flavour!

MakMak Macarons - small plate of macarons

As you can see, MakMak finds inspiration for new flavours in everyday life (I’d have the raisin toast macaron for breakfast any day!) as well as their cultural background (the black sesame is their signature flavour).

All MakMak macarons are individually hand piped and assembled. They are truly exquisite works of art – crisp shells, luscious centres, all uniformly shaped and so luxuriously delicate.

And you know what? They’re all gluten-free because Carlos and Chia believe that everybody should be able to indulge in the comfort of macarons.

MakMak Macarons - double stack of macarons

So where to next for MakMak?

Well, the boys are on track with their wholesale (75%) to direct sales (25%) ratio and a boutique retail store may be on the cards in the near future.

In the meantime, you can order online at www.makmak.com.au or check them out at Via Del Corso in Westfield Sydney, Baffi & Mo in Redfern, Cafe
in Surry Hills, Duke Bistro in Surry Hills, Kantine in Surry
Hills, Le Depot in Ultimo, Poolside Cafe at The Domain and Cow & The
in Enmore & Juju Espresso at Macquarie Place CBD.

If you haven’t had a taste of MakMak’s macarons, you’re missing out big time!

MakMak Macarons
Phone: 0432 501 852
Web: www.makmak.com.au

Costs: $25 per dozen


Thank you to Carlos & Chia for taking the time to chat with me! You guys rock! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydneyโ€™s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.
  • Fabulous article! I’m loving seeing macarons getting more and more ubiquitous. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the sound of the raisin toast and pavlova flavours and can’t wait for the hot cross for Easter!

  • These flavours sound incredible. The macarons look too good to be real food too.
    I love your china – where did you get the spotted saucer from?

  • I still need eat these macarons! but question for you creators? Why the name Makmak?

  • I haven’t tried their macarons. The flavours look interesting and it’s on my must do list ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ooooh, I didn’t know it was these guys, I bought some salted caramel ones from Via Del Corso and absolutely adored them!

  • Christina

    Any chance they’ll have a branch over here in Melbourne? ๐Ÿ˜›

  • I’ve tried the delicious makmak macarons at via del corso and at Baffi and mo and I have to say that they are as scrumptious as you have described Jen! Would def love to try the hot cross buns flavor for eastertime! Good on you Carlos and chia for living the dream!

  • Nice story, and such gorgeous colours…!

  • Jen

    It’s the 1930’s Polka Rose from the Royal Albert 100 Years Tea Collection set!

  • Such enticing combination of flavors and colors they came up with. I love macaroons and I can’t wait to have a taste of each. Keep it up, you guys! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hugo

    Fantastic Business!
    But I’m wondering how they manage to keep it going.
    Suppose each week they produce 1000 macarons, which sells $2083 a week, which is 112 grand a year. This includes cost of materials, I guess half of it, luckily not rents for shops. The left over profit is low.

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