Tributes to master baker who swapped Switzerland for Sunderland

Max Muller and his wife Gianna

Max Muller and his wife Gianna

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A SWISS-born master baker who produced some of the finest cakes and pastries on Wearside has died.

Max Müller, who has lost his fight with cancer, aged 86, opened the first of three Swiss bakery and confectionary shops shortly after moving to Sunderland from St Gallen, north-east Switzerland, in the 1950s.

Producing a range of cakes and breads, the family-run business in Villette Road quickly grew in popularity, with branches also opening in the city centre and Fulwell in the 1980s.

His son Bruno, who runs the company with mum Gianna, brother Max and sister Sonia, said: “He was always involved in the business, even after all these years.

“He would come down and offer new ideas. He always liked to take part.”

Max, whose father and grandfather were also bakers, was just 16 when he began an apprenticeship that led to him becoming a fully-qualified master baker and confectioner.

While still in Switzerland in the late 1940s, he met his Italian wife Gianna, from a village near Venice.

In 1950, they were married and arrived in North East England.

They made the move on the advice of one of Max’s friends, as he had been working long hours and seven-day weeks in Switzerland and working conditions were much better in the UK.

Max, who could speak a little English and Gianna none when they first landed in the country, did not receive a penny in state assistance and he soon began working for local bakers Smythe’s.

“When he first arrived in Sunderland, he worked for a baker in the city before he decided to go out on his own,” said 55-year-old Bruno.

“He worked very hard to build it up.

“His family and the business – those were the two most important things in his life.”

Speaking on 50th anniversary of the bakers in 2009, Max said the company could have been far bigger, but that was never his aim.

“For me, it was all about the business and the family,” he said. “I was never after the money or the publicity.”

“It was a lot of hard work for many years before Max, Bruno and Sonia came into the business.”

Max died on December 17 and his funeral held at St Cecilia’s RC Church, in Ryhope Road. As well as being a devoted husband and father, he was also a grandfather and great-grandfather.

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