Address: 369 Sydney Rd, Coburg
Phone: (03) 9354 5165
From a chat with Grace that’s been edited
The business started in 1965.
William Trivelli opened the shop, it had two owners after that, and we took over in 1975.
It was basic continental but dad, being a pastry chef from Italy, brought in a lot of variation and took the cakes to another level.
We grew up in the shop and, as you can see, it’s still family.
There’s my sister in law, my son, my husband and devoted staff.
In Italy, they were transferring dad from coast to coast.
Over summer, pastry chefs were posted to travel all over Italy to provide their services.
In those days, they were qualified to work the whole reception: cooking, desserts, everything. Dad travelled, and we hardly saw him until we moved to Australia. They were looking for people with qualifications, so we moved, and I came to Australia when I was eight years old.
We lived in Moonee Ponds. Mum – who was a seamstress and designer by trade – started working in a clothing factory, and dad started working with cakes. About 18 months later, dad was diagnosed with cancer. He had his operation, couldn’t work and – about a year later – got a job at another cake shop.
We lived in Italy for nine months, came back to Australia, and mum became ill with asthma. We were in and out of hospital for a few years. Then, after getting on top of that, mum and dad found a spot at the Preston market, Lucchini Cakes.
That didn’t last long. Dad moved to a milk bar and cake shop in Springvale. He stayed there for a few years before moving to Bella Cakes in Balaclava. I was 13 at that point, taking care of the family and helping dad at work.
The owner offered dad the shop because, from nothing, it was booming.
Bella Cakes was really good, but dad was offered Trivelli Cakes.
There were five or six pastry chefs in Melbourne who all knew each other. One of dad’s close friends, Tomasso, was an artist with chocolate. He said, “there is a place where you can really make it work,” and it was at 2A Munro St.
Mum moved in, started helping with the business and introduced a lot of the wrappings that weren’t known at the time.
It was like ‘bang.’
it was the best business around.
It was predominately Italians buying the products. When they celebrated, they did so with biscuits, cakes and desserts. Dad introduced gelati cakes and, with the marzipan fruits, he was an artist.
Shortly after my future husband, Paul, walked in to the place for a job. I was 15 at the time, and my parents grew to love him like a son.
It was a great loss when my dad passed away because they worked as a team, along with my brother Sam.
When we moved to Coburg, there were three kids.
I did seven years of customer service, and grew tired of it. I started working beside dad. He used to do the prep, and I would finish the cakes. Joseph was born when I was 18. I left school to help out, and mum and dad continued with the business.
I began doing night classes at Wilton Cakes, before working at expos and events. I was averaging 900 kilometres a week doing the receptions, and mum and dad were taking care of other things.
In 1982 Joseph turned one, mum won a scratch ticket worth $50,000 and we moved to this premises, which was a clothes shop at the time.
We have been here 38 years now.
Mum looked for unusual things.
People came to know us through word of mouth but, if it was up to the area, we would’ve closed down years ago.
Our customers have moved away, the elderly have passed on and a lot of their children haven’t continued the tradition.
Before it used to be Trivelli, the clothing shop, the deli, the sewing machine, the chemist: there wasn’t two of everything.
Now, people have more options.
But people who love us come from everywhere.
We tell clients that we don’t put things in our biscuits that will make them last.
And we teach the younger generation how to take care of their cakes.
We don’t believe in long life, so our cakes are made daily. Our biscuits are made three times a week. If it’s almond, it’s refrigerated and it will feel like it’s frozen, but it’s not. The cold stops the almond from drying. Once the almond dries, it becomes hard.
And we don’t put bread crumbs or mashed potatoes in our biscuits. They are old trade secrets to make them soft. It provides value for your money, but it’s not about that. We use real butter in our shortbread, so you don’t get that tinned flavour at the back of your throat.
We use good products, and we sell a lot of them.
People appreciate them.
Dad passed away about 13 years ago, and it was a great loss.
He was my mentor and, even now, with him not there, the work can be very hard. I continued because, being the eldest, I had to be strong for mum. I couldn’t be weak. That was hard for me, because I didn’t take the time to mourn.
Paul and I took over the business in 2006, and my son came in about eight years ago. We’re hoping he will continue. He’s a pastry chef, along with his father and two others. My daughter comes in to help sometimes, and I’ve been teaching her since she was about four.
She’s 16, and involved in her studies.
She’s really working hard, and wants to be a criminology.
I live and breathe cakes, I really do.
We don’t switch on a machine that makes them.
Everything is handmade.
Dad used to say “never become too big or you’ll compromise the product.”
My husband is the mighty working machine.
The product isn’t always perfect, but you ask anyone about Trivelli’s cream, and they’ll tell you it’s to die for.
It’s our 54th year now.
For our 50th year we had a write up in the paper, and we didn’t know what to expect.
We had a line up Sydney Rd, sold about 12,000 cannoli’s and ran out of cream. We told customers to come back at 4pm, had more cream made and – within 30 minutes – we ran out of cannoli’s.
You can’t make 20,000 cannoli’s and keep them in storage because they deteriorate and become stale.
We’ve said to our kids ‘when you think you’ve had enough, that’s fine, you can move on.’
We felt that pressure – of feeling guilty to leave – and it’s not a good feeling. We haven’t imposed that on our kids, because we know what It feels like. If they want to help, we appreciate it.
I’d like to continue in the future, but I’d shrink the business to a smaller place, and specialise on what we are known for. Our cannoli’s, donuts, continental range and biscuits.
This place is pretty big, it’s run by five of us, and we’re getting older.
But it’s working well for us.
Written by Aron Lewin, with all photos by Tatiana C C Scott