Fabrice Delaunay didn’t buy Chouquette in New Farm because he enjoys baking. He bought it because he enjoys people.
Fabrice and his wife Meggy Delaunay took over the already popular New Farm spot from original owner Lara Keating in July 2018. It’s gone from strength to strength since.
“It’s been challenging,” Fabrice says. “The business has grown very fast. There were three pastry chefs and now there are five pastry chefs and two bakers. Before, the bread was not made on-site, but now everything is made in New Farm.
“We do things a certain way – a really traditional way. My wife and I are from Normandy in France. Our grandparents were farmers. They were eating what they produced in their garden and in their dairy, so we know what’s a good product and what’s a bad product. We make everything from scratch, everything is fresh. It’s a lot of work.”
It was always the intention to grow the business, so the Delaneys snapped up a heritage-listed cafe tenancy when it became available in the CBD a few months ago. In October they unveiled Chouquette Edward Street (in the former Madders Brothers Patisserie space) on the corner of Edward and Margaret Streets.
“A lot of my customers who live in New Farm are professionals who work in the city,” Fabrice says. “They come in on the weekend and say, ‘Fabrice, we can’t come during the week because you’re in New Farm and we don’t have time to come. It would be good if you could open in the city’.”
The space itself hasn’t changed much from its Madders Brothers days. Most of the ostentatious furniture has been replaced and the violet walls painted a crisp white, giving the cafe a much more approachable feel. Otherwise, it has the same exposed brick and beams, the same eye-catching array of hanging Edison bulbs, and the same long counter.
Besides, it’s what’s inside the counter that the Chouqeutte loyalists swear by: authentic pain aux raisins, eclairs, canelés, danishes and tarts, and the Delaunays’ crunchy baguettes and loaves of sourdough. The pastries, cakes and breads are helped down with Wolff Coffee Roasters’s Edelweiss blend – a lightly flavoured coffee that’s a good match for the food, Fabrice says.
Chouquette Edward Street may be drawing the New Farm diehards during their weekday lunch breaks, but it’s also cleverly positioned to take advantage of the residential apartment blocks gathered round the river and the Botanic Gardens. Fabrice reckons he’s already developing a local trade similar to New Farm.
“That’s the plan,” he says. “We’ve nailed it in New Farm and we want to duplicate it on Edward Street. You make the difference with the food but also the coffee and how you treat your customers.
“The cellist Yo-Yo Ma talks about how playing music lets him fulfil his interest in people. For me, it’s the same. I love communicating with customers. Why do I have a bakery? Because of the people.”
Chouquette Edward Street
41 Edward Street, Brisbane
(07) 3211 8251
Mon to Fri 7.30am–5pm