From mining consultant to cooking enthusiast, Grace Mazur’s change of life introduced Thermomix to Australia.
ANYONE who has come into contact with a user of Thermomix will understand the addictive nature of the ‘do-all’ kitchen appliance.
Australia and New Zealand Thermomix distributor Grace Mazur knows this all too well.
Ms Mazur introduced Thermomix to Western Australia in 1991, having discovered the German and French-made product when she visited Poland, the country of her birth.
“I went back to Poland, saw the Thermomix, bought one, used it and thought, ‘this works’,” Ms Mazur told WA Business News.
Thermomix is multiple kitchen appliances and functions in one unit – it can weigh, chop, beat, mix, grind, knead, heat, stir and steam food.
Ms Mazur starts her day by milling her own linseed and sunflower muesli in the Thermomix, and the machine gets a regular workout throughout the day.
Thermomix is celebrating its 10th year in Australia and has hit 40,000 unit sales, but despite this and the brand gaining serious traction thanks to Masterchef, Ms Mazur recalls the trials of learning how to use the product in the early days.
“The first time I made bread it looked like a brick. Then I realised that in Europe the soils are very strong, so the protein level (in grain) is high, but here it is low, so you have to use a baker’s flour here,” she says.
Ms Mazur’s Thermomix distribution business quickly took off, and with plans to focus on the eastern seaboard for future growth, Thermomix has long surpassed the days of selling 400 units a year.
Like many of the consultants selling Thermomix, Ms Mazur wanted a sea change at the time she took the distributor’s licence on board.
Ms Mazur and her future husband decided to leave Poland in 1982 after the imposition of martial law, and Australia was in her sights.
She recalls Europe at the time was much more conservative than what she imagined Australia to be.
“Everybody was so strict, there were so many restrictions in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe there was communism so there were different restrictions, you didn’t have the freedom of speech and so on, but there were other freedoms,” Ms Mazur says.
“In Western Europe there were other restrictions ... three o’clock is afternoon tea, if you have kids keep them quiet.
“It was a structured life, you need structure, but that was overdone.
“Over there, Australia seemed to be this amazing foreign country, we didn’t know what to expect, but we were nicely surprised.”
When Ms Mazur applied to come to Australia, she wanted to go to Sydney, having associated Australia with the oft-seen images of the harbour city.
“When they said to us we had to come to Perth, I thought, ‘I am not coming, I have never heard of Perth’,” she recalls.
“Now I have been around the country and there are beautiful places, in Tasmania and Queensland, but here is home.”
The WA mining industry beckoned when the couple arrived in Australia and they moved to Mount Magnet.
“I was not involved in mining as such at all, but it was the main employment. We thought we would go and have a look at the outback and see what it was like,” Ms Mazur says.
At the time, working for the local branch of state government departments was the best way to learn the ways of her new world.
“We were the mining registrar, so we made registration of titles, miners’ rights, then we had the children’s courts; there was a judge coming every now and then, we had court sessions and we did one marriage as well, it was a bit of everything. So I learned how everything operates in Australia,” Ms Mazur says.
That experience also helped to grow her understanding of the Australian community and way of life, which played out later when she applied for the Thermomix distributor’s licence and was met with the European-style mindset of Australia.
“Their idea was Australia’s food was like American, that we didn’t cook, we only had barbeques and surfed,” she says.
“We proved them wrong.”
After five years in the Mid West, Ms Mazur moved back to Perth and then started a consulting business after a two-year period with the Department of Mines – work she said also helped to establish her business nous and customer relations for future endeavours.
“I enjoyed the mining industry, it was very vibrant. I enjoyed all the wheeling and dealing,” she says.
“I have always been a people person; even at the mines department everyone hated working on the counter. I loved it, you speak to everyone who came and you learn so much from them.
“It gave me a lot of insight.”
It was during her time with the Department of Mines that Ms Mazur started to experiment with and sell Thermomix; and for the first year she attempted to run her consulting business as well.
“I quickly realised it wasn’t going to be easy, and I let mining go,” she says.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, if you overanalysed you would have thought, ‘oh my gosh, this is too much’. But you go slowly and when you go bit by bit, it is not as big as it seems.”