We caught up with the venue’s co-owner David ‘Frankie’ Cudmore, and local piemaker Carla Montanaro to have a chat about it all.
In the heart of Melbourne’s live music scene lies The Bergy Seltzer, a fantastic local dive bar committed to pouring the best drinks, putting on the best shows, and now baking the best pies, six days a week.
Before venues closed their doors for an extended period of time in 2020, The Bergy was in early discussions about bringing food to their venue.
As the venue continued their pursuit following the lockdown, venue co-owner David ‘Frankie’ Cudmore came across local piemaker Carla Montanaro via his mum, through a chance encounter when scrolling through Facebook.
“We met through the Brunswick Good Karma Network, my mum is all over that stuff, we’ve been discussing ideas for the kitchen and looking for solutions, because we don’t have a lot of space,” Frankie says.
“Carla put a post up looking for a space, and my mum was like, ‘Ooh I found this!’. My mum was a matchmaker, so to speak.”
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In a small, intimate venue like The Bergy, there’s not a lot of space to accommodate big spreads, which is where the idea of pies came in – an easy, universally-beloved option that would compliment the venue perfectly.
“We’ve had the idea to have food and everything in here, but with our space, it’s pretty limited, so this is kind of the perfect solution, especially coming into winter months, it’ll be perfect for some wine and some pies.”
Montanaro, the piemaker behind the super-popular Naro Pies, had been working in the food industry for a number of years, but she only began her foray into the world of piemaking in 2020, a time when the hospitality industry was brought a standstill.
“I’m a savoury chef, and I had just gotten a job at a bar down the road, but all my shifts were cut so I just had a lot of spare time, even though I kept my job thankfully. I was only working two days a week, and so I just had all this time on my hands,” Montanaro says.
“As a way to see my brothers, and see my family, I would just drop around pies, and I always really loved pastry. But I’m not a pastry chef so I feel like pies were like the perfect combination of savoury and sweet.
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“They were like, ‘These pies are really good!’, and then I started giving them to friends, and made a little Instagram page, and then from there it’s kinda just picked up.”
The Bergy’s selection of savoury and sweet pies are bound to be the envy of all budding bakers out there, with Montanaro ensuring the pies are made with some of the best and freshest local ingredients.
“My pies are quite gourmet, and they’re more expensive because they’re made with good ingredients, local ingredients, and grass-fed instead of grain-fed beef, pork, and free range chicken. That all adds to an amplified taste.”
The idea of fresh, local and environmentally-friendly ingredients is what sealed the deal for Frankie; something which also suits the interests of the clientele The Bergy attracts.
“One of the first messages was her saying she wants to be Brunswick based, and she gets stuff from the local butcher, Nino and Joes, locally sourced things. You see on her Instagram, picking ingredients, and that kind of touch, that community feeling is what brings people back.”
Already known for their fantastic drinks and live music, don’t expect The Bergy Seltzer to tone down their bar service – the pies simply add another element to an already-beloved venue.
“It’s going to amplify it I think, we’ve got some ideas with what’s going to happen in winter, pies fit that mold, and probably change some of the cocktails to suit winter, or do some mulled wine.”
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Frankie and Montanaro will work closely together on getting some different pairings with some pies too, with Montanaro mentioning one pairing they’ve been playing around with.
“A warm apple crumble pie with a nice Old Fashioned on a cold winter’s night is the best thing,” Montanaro laughs.
Versatility will be the key, however, and Montanaro already understands the importance of having a dynamic menu.
“I think to stay relevant, and to stay interesting, you kind of have to switch it up, especially with the different seasons and everything, you want to stay on trend with using berries in summer and apples in winter.”
The Bergy Seltzer’s new venture makes them sit apart from the pack, and will make catching a local gig an even more enjoyable experience.