Once a feature of stately Victorian households, high teas have become big business as a premium patisserie offering. Australian Baking Business looks at the pastry chefs profiting from pastry elegance.
Park Hyatt Sydney’s ‘Living Room’ provides a luxurious and relaxed setting from which to enjoy an indulgent Champagne high. Natural tones, timber flooring, sunlit-drenched lounges, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and a view of the glittering harbour create a tranquil Sydney experience.
Executive pastry chef Fabien Berteau (pictured) channels his passion to transform traditional desserts into an elegant masterpiece of flavours and colour. His delicate desserts, including his signature mille feuille, can be enjoyed daily.
“We have Valrhona layer chocolate cake, pistachio macaron, red berries profiterole , passion and mango tart, and served warm scones and homemade jam berries,” Fabien explained to Australian Baking Business.
Fabien graduated from one of the world’s top pastry stores, France’s Laduree, and began his career at the three Michelin-star restaurant La Palme d’Or at the Hotel Martinez in Cannes. What followed was a number of roles at Michelin acclaimed establishments such as Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris, and Restaurant Le Chabichou in Courchevel.
From there, Berteau moved to London to work at Putney Bridge, Chez Bruce and Restaurant Fouquet’s, after which time he returned to his homeland and to Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme where he found his mentor, executive pastry chef Jean François Foucher.
Fabien made the bold move to relocate to Sydney in 2008, and since this time has captivated guests of Park Hyatt Sydney with his unique creations.
US-based dessert table designer and sweets blogger Shauna Younge has modernised the high tea concept. Her XOXO dessert table features a monochromatic cake, custom popcorn boxes and custom candy bars, while ‘xoxo’ logos encourage guests to hug and kiss. Chocolate whoopie pies, coconut cupcakes and custom truffles round out the sweet selections.
“While beautiful desserts are always a welcome addition to any event, an artfully-arranged dessert display can become a focal point all on its own,” Shauna told Australian Baking Business.
“I would encourage any baker to further challenge their creative skills and offer their clientele an expanded menu of services by introducing customised dessert tables. No matter what a pastry chef’s speciality, their desserts can be incorporated into high-end, stylised sweets tables that include custom linens, custom chocolate bar wrappers, and cupcake toppers.”
Shauna’s designs focus on custom desserts and details to create one-of-a-kind sugary sensations. You can view her delicious designs at www.shaunayounge.com.
Swathed in natural light, Sofi’s Lounge in the Sofitel Melbourne provides the perfect setting for a relaxing high tea experience.
Serving afternoon tea from 2.30pm Monday to Friday, Sofi’s Lounge serves delicate finger sandwiches, cakes, freshly baked scones with homemade jam and whipped cream on individual tiered stands, accompanied with a glass of sparkling wine and tea or coffee.
On weekends, guests can indulge in the sumptuous Sofi’s High Tea buffet, which features a crepe station, elegant finger sandwiches, hot and cold savouries, freshly baked scones with an assortment of homemade jams and whipped cream, a selection of cakes, pastries and desserts and a glass of Australian sparkling wine.
Sydney patisserie Patisse runs a monthly high tea for its customers hosted by executive pastry chef Vincent Gadan. The high tea has a special sweet menu that includes savoury and sweet items, coffee and tea.
The most recent high tea in March was themed around the northern regions of France – Brittany and Normandy. The food on offer included apples, Calvados, cider, cheeses including camembert, Pont l’Eveque and Livarot.
“High tea gives your business another opportuntiy to showcase fabulous product and another form for your customers to interact with you and your team,” Patisse owner Michelle Guberina said.
“The key is to be different – don’t do what everyone else does. Put your creative mind to work and offer your guests something unique, memorable and with a point of difference.”
Patisse’s upcoming event will see a return to Normandy in April 22 with special guest foodie Jane Webster, who will be launching her sequel book to My French Table. Vincent will be re-creating his versions of Jane’s recipes from the book.
Vincent Gadan is a highly regarded and well-established pastry chef with more than 25 years experience. He received one of his biggest accolades in 1992, winning first place in the Ardennes-Eiffel Culinary Prize.
HIGH TEA IN THE HILLS
Esca Bimbadgen in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, delights visitors with sweet and savoury high tea treats.
Located high on a hill in Bimbadgen Winery, patrons can sit on the Esca balcony, sip on sparkling wine and enjoy the view whilse soaking up the sunlight and surrounds.
Born and bred in the Hunter Valley, Esca executive chef Ebonnie Newby knows the fine local produce of Australia’s oldest wine region inside and out. Ebonnie began her apprenticeship in Newcastle at Bayviews in Warner’s Bay and then set her sights for the Hunter Valley.
Ebonnie has enjoyed capturing the region’s true characteristics through seasonal produce and flavours, such as mini quiches made up of vegetables and herbs picked from their garden from season to season.
“For example it may be smoked ham and chive or roma tomato and salami,” Ebonnie suggests.
For the sweeter side of high tea, Ebonnie is currently serving flourless chocolate cake covered in chocolate ganache with strawberries from their garden.
“This cake is a real chocolate lovers delight, this would have to be my favourite part of high tea. We also include brioche with honey and vanilla mascarpone. This is delicious, warm toasted brioche, spread with the mascarpone and drizzled with honey. This is the part where you need to lick the honey off your fingertips,” she said.
Ebonnie teaches and supports young apprentices in the kitchen at Esca and regularly helps them to train for competitions. She is looking forward to building on the strong reputation that the winery and restaurant has in the Hunter Valley and beyond, and wants to create a unique and diverse offering within the spectacular setting of the Esca dining room.
When not in the Esca kitchen creating her latest masterpiece, Ebonnie loves to focus on cake making and decorating in her own kitchen.
Dessert tables are a great opportunity to style an event, and Australian designer Sharnel Dollar Designs works with food producers such as The Lemony Cupcake, Authentic French Macarons and Glazed Bakehouse to create beautiful tables of food.
Sharnel combines petit fours, cakes, cookies, and macarons with thematic backdrops, flowers, cake stands, vessels and candy jars to stunning effect. One of the unique events she has organised includes an ‘ice cream social’ for children featuring a large fiberglass ice cream and carousel table with customisable sundae options. She has even styled a baby shower involving Oprah.
“Everything is colour coordinated, labeled and displayed with an eye so meticulous that even your most discerning guests will applaud,” Sharnel said.
Sharnel Dollar Designs is focused on designing “extraordinary” events through their dessert table and event styling services.
“We believe your event should capture the true essence of you and the theme should transcend through every aspect of the celebration.”
Sharnel suggests bakers and pastry chefs think about individual portions, single-serve and miniaturised versions of food.
“What works best with events are things that are easy to pick up and eat,” she said.
At the baby shower Oprah attended, Sharnel used miniaturised loaves of bread to make mini-sandwiches.
“Oprah fell in love with them,” Sharnel said.
Macarons are still very popular, either as individual pieces or made into a cake, and any products that can be jarred are good as wedding favours.
“Have them available as a product to share that you sell form your store. Bakers should look into this for sure,” she said.
The wife and mother of two has a strong passion for entertaining, creating dessert tables, beautiful interiors, flowers and travel.