Estera and Florian Ast at Big Mama's doughnut holes stall
Estera and Florian Ast at Big Mama's doughnut holes stall Jann Houley

Big Mama serves up big laughs at Taste

Estera and Florian Ast are familiar faces to Rockhampton people who enjoy doughnut holes and coffee around the region's various markets.

Originally from Romania - where Dracula came from - Mr Ast first fled the Communist regime, arriving in Australia as a political refugee in 1987.

His wife and eldest daughter followed two years later, first settling in Melbourne.

Pip Thiele, Evie Hevelt, Josh Williams and Maya Williams admire Andrew Hao's carved fruit display
Pip Thiele, Evie Hevelt, Josh Williams and Maya Williams admire Andrew Hao's carved fruit display Jann Houley

"The hardest thing was my brother passed away the night I left; it was so hard to leave the family behind," Mrs Ast said.

Mrs Ast was so unfamiliar with Australian food, when they served her white bread on the plane, she thought they'd given her a cleaning sponge.

"In Romania, all the bread is black and it's very good for you," she said.

Andrew Hao's carved fruit display
Andrew Hao's carved fruit display Jann Houley

She worked in airline catering, as a house cleaner and in a fish factory before her husband moved to Gladstone moved to work in the mines.

They made the move to Rockhampton in 2012 to be closer to their four grandchildren.

Their youngest daughter pleaded with her parents to indulge her passion for cooking.

"When your child begs you for two years they want something, you have to do it," Mrs Ast said.

"She had an apprenticeship at a bakery but still she said, 'Mum, you should share your Romanian doughnuts with people in Rockhampton.'"

The couple said they've never been happier than serving tasty food to repeat customers who always come back laughing.



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