Just one week into opening her stall at the South Melbourne Market, Agathe Kerr is a little frazzled. It’s been busy. “The first week we made 70 kilos of pastry, and this week we are doing 200. And we’re already out of flour,” she says, laughing, somewhat hysterically.
Kerr trained at L’École de Boulangerie et de Patisserie in Paris, and later at established Paris institution Pâtisserie Lenôtre, where Melbourne dessert master Adriano Zumbo also learned his trade. Then she came to Melbourne to set up her first permanent outlet.
“I always loved pastry. The magical transformation of the ingredients into something so beautiful,” she says of her mid-life vocation change from IT consultancy.
A market stall is the perfect location to fit Kerr’s baking ethos: good things are pure and simple. Provers, ovens and decorating benchtops push the pastries (and the lines) to the front of the dual stallfront, emulating a typically French boulangerie, where there is little space for lingering, and the artfully crafted pastries are the piece de resistance.
Bicolour croissants in pistachio and coffee colours form racing stripes on the counter, the flavoured pastry layered delicately to expose a strip of colour every few folds. Cruffins filled with Nutella or salted caramel are piped fresh to order and only available on the weekends.
The croissant selection itself is extensive and untraditional. Alongside the plain Parisian crescents are pandan or matcha alternatives, filled with an almond and red bean paste. Or opt for a savoury smashed-avocado croissant with feta, or a savoury danish.
As soon as she adjusts to the croissant-hungry crowds, Kerr plans to extend her array of desserts in the viennoiserie section to more traditional pastries that would be found in French bakeries. Desserts in this section will be as intricate as a traditional mille-feuille, or a more gateway-level speciality, madeleines, which Kerr fills with Nutella.
Stall 63–64, 322–326 Coventry Street, South Melbourne
Fri to Sun 8am–4pm