One might call her the Grand Duchess of Shortbread. Anita Vogt started the Regal Shortbread Co. nearly eight years ago and has been on a journey with her micro bakery ever since.
With a career history that reads like a rap sheet, Vogt has done a little bit of everything. She started out as an actress, then took on motherhood while delving into education. She then moved to New Zealand 12 years ago.
"My family still talk about my phase of making bags out of recycled materials which left me with a collection of hundreds of Frankenstinesque creations in storage all over my home."
The bakery that started as a fundraising project for her daughter's exchange programme to Germany took on a life of its own. Vogt ended up scouring the internet for recipes and taught herself to make pastries, tarts and all manner of cakes. Inspiration came from her mother's love of food and the way she was able to share life through a sweet treat.
"It's been a wonderful journey, and I'm still loving it!"
The neighbourhood wanted more of her baking, and it served as a great way to integrate and connect with her Porirua community.
The chef only makes what she loves, and lucky for her customers, she loves most things. She is a process baker that prioritises slow food over ready-made elements.
The customers of Regal Shortbread Co. play a significant role in Vogt's baking. One loyal local requested gingernuts, so she poked and prodded recipes until finding the perfect one. That recipe has since won a Bronze medal at the 2022 NZ Artisan Awards.
"I loved experiencing the joy and tender unity that sharing good food brings. In a family that had many challenges, food was the one place where communication was easy; I suppose that's how it became my love language. I still marvel at the magic when humans from opposing sides can agree on what tastes good. It seems to be a universal bonding experience. I'm all about people and their stories, and I find that the stories of families, cultures and histories are demystified when we start to share our culinary joys."
The Regal Shortbread Co.'s most popular baked good is the orange and date scone. Made with orange zest and orange juice instead of milk, it is a punchy accidental creation - Vogt ran out of milk one day and had to be creative. Other favourites are the cinnabuns with cream cheese frosting and the South African Milk Tart, which is baked custard with a cinnamon topping.
When asked for her most unique product, Vogt suggested her shortbread range - the six different flavours have their own regal mascot. There are also, of course, the gingernuts.
In 2023 Vogt wants to focus on getting her gingernuts and shortbread ranges into retail outlets. But aside from that, she is happy being part of her sleepy community in Porirua.
For anyone looking into patisserie and baking, Vogt would always ask, "Do you love it?" She noted that it is a tough industry, and passion is needed to keep things moving. It is easy to burn out, so plan for self-care and remember to value your overall contribution to the gastronomic landscape.
"I also want to mention the artisans I enjoy connecting with and admire. Saskia Hendrikse from SHpottery, she makes awesome travel cups; Rana Daud from Levant Sweets who makes authentic baklava; MJ from Mighty Greens supplies me with micro greens that are just perfect; Rob from Elemental Coffee and Clare van Leuwen from Little Spoon who I did a collab with this Christmas."