When pastry chef Lachlan Scott and his wife Kylie opened their own surburban Flour and Chocolate bakery they had a simple and honest credo: stick to tradition. Less than four years on and these baking traditionalists have a cult-like following. We popped in to find out why.
Since mastering the art from an old German baker, Lachlan’s CV reads like an impressive list of Brisbane’s best bakery establishments, taking in New Farm’s Jocelyn’s Provisions and Albion’s Brew Bakers. But, given the plethora of start-ups emerging in Brisbane’s burgeoning artisan bakery scene circa 2012, opening his own business was a nerve-wracking experience.
He need not have worried, however. Less than four short years after opening, Flour and Chocolate, the Scotts’ elegantly rustic little artisan patisserie in inner-city Morningside, is positively booming, with customers traveling from across town to sample its delectable wares.
In fact, traffic jams have even been reported in the surrounding streets, from the sheer volume of people eager to join the long line winding out the bakery’s door.
At first, it was just Lachlan, Kylie and their two little boys – Oliver, now six, and Kingston, eight – in the shop. Now, they have the help of 18 staff, with 10 or 12 people working on any one day.
Each morning, Lachlan Scott and his team of pastry chefs take their organic flour, free-range eggs and coverture chocolate, and transform them into delicious works of art that Brisbane simply can’t get enough of.
Lachlan’s almond croissants are one of the most sought after products on offer, with more than 1000 sold this Father’s Day.
But it’s not just the croissants that are walking out the door. ‘Specialty days’, where a particular product is featured, have proved a major hit. On Wednesdays, European-inspired doughnuts are the stars, while on Thursdays the spotlight is on ‘Gonuts’ – Lachlan’s take on the cronut.
“The comeback of doughnuts has been amazing,” Lachlan Scott says.
“Our most popular is always salted caramel. But we do fresh cream doughnuts, baby doughnuts, lemon curd, passionfruit curd, chocolate custard. At the moment we’ve noticed our éclairs, fruit tarts and lemon meringue tarts have been really popular as well. And we sell out of baguettes most days.”
The two cornerstones of the Scotts’ business philosophy – service and quality – remain equally as important now as they were in the early days, and reflect Lachlan Scott and Kylie’s individual areas of expertise. Lachlan is adamant the two cannot be separated and carry equal importance in the Flour and Chocolate success story.
“We’re a team. We think of it as an experience. When we opened the place, we predominantly wanted to provide a quality product, but we wanted to provide a quality service as well,” Lachlan Scott says.
“We get disenchanted when we go somewhere expecting to have a really good experience, only to be let down by the service. So it’s very important for us.”
Kylie, who has a background in retail and customer service, takes care of the frontline and ensures top service and procedural standards are maintained.
“Predominantly, a lot of the good service and the good will we have out the front is because of my wife’s hard work,” Lachlan says.
For his part, Lachlan Scott concentrates on the products, with a focus on using only the highest quality ingredients available. He buys from local providores and farmers, and of course, 100 per cent organic flour.
“The reason we use it is it just tastes better,” he says.
“In bread, it’s more difficult to use; it changes all the time, it changes with the seasons. But overall the flavour is amazing and I think it works really well with cakes as well.
“We’ve found it a bit tricky with pastry – it’s been a big learning curve and it doesn’t always behave itself because it has a lower gluten content.”
And while Flour and Chocolate offers a competitive price point, people are willing to pay a bit extra for taste and quality, Lachlan believes.
“What you pay for is what you get,” he says.
“You can find so-called artisan bread in the supermarket now, and their price point on that is very similar to ours, but I promise you it’s a very different product.
“We do everything by hand, and we make it from the ground up, in store. We don’t buy in pre-mixes at all. Everything is basic ingredients – it’s sugar, chocolate, eggs.
“We try not to mess with the food too much. We have a good product and we try and make it good on its own – not played with too much. I think that’s what people are currently chasing.”
Lachlan’s passion for the profession began on his 15th birthday when he started his apprenticeship at the only bakery in the little country town of Pittsworth, his family home, near Toowoomba in South-East Queensland. After two years he left for the Gold Coast, completing his apprenticeship at Jupiters Casino.
“We had 18 pastry chefs and five bakers, and 110 chefs working there at the time with 18 different apprentices,” Lachlan says.
“I went from a small town to working in a business that had as many people working there as were in our town. It was incredible.”
The move proved a major turning point in his career, where he would learn many new tricks of his trade from the German, French and Turkish pastry chefs he was working under.
“I really learnt to make pastry when I was there. It was my role as an apprentice to make all the doughs every day, the pastry, all the croissants,” he says.
“In the morning I’d come in and I’d bake it all off and help out with the bread, but predominantly I did a lot of pastry work.
“You got shifted into different sections; you did one thing and you did that for six months and that was that – so you learnt it properly.”
Flour and Chocolate also has a mini in-store pantry with a stash of organic flours, artisan preserves, Dutch cocoa powder, chocolate gallet, gourmet oils and vinegars and convivial owners Kylie and Lachlan are more than happy to share tips, tastings and info on everything on offer.
Given this is all happening in a small, surburban setting, it shouldn’t come as a suprise Lachlan Scott says the kitchen is a bit confined for space and that he and the team are looking to expand.
“We have eight or nine chefs in the kitchen and it’s quite a tight little space, so we’re trying to expand that area so we can produce more for our customers,” he says.
“We have the staff members now to help out a bit, whereas before it was just ourselves. So we’re trying to get that bit of freedom so we can venture outside and see the daylight from time-to-time.”