For years, those with gluten intolerances or coeliac disease were forced to settle for crumbly, dry, and generally subpar imitations of beloved baked goods. Gluten is the general name for proteins commonly found in wheat, rye and barley, which act as the glue that helps shape a loaf of bread or makes a croissant light and airy – it’s an integral part of traditional baking, meaning it’s hard to replicate the same results without it.

These days, the initials GF are familiar and frequently found on cafe and restaurant menus. And in Sydney, dedicated bakeries such as Wholegreen Bakery, Hudson’s Bakery and Nutie have reimagined the world of gluten-free eating.

That list has now grown longer, with one of Wholegreen Bakery’s former star pastry chefs, Parisian-born and French-trained Sebastien Syidalza, opening a gluten-free bakery and cafe in Leichhardt. At Sebastien Sans Gluten, everything is gluten-free, from the meat pies to the chocolate eclairs.

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There are also sausage rolls, pain au chocolat, brioche, quiche Lorraine, cream puffs, chocolate tart, lemon meringue tart, bread loaves, Paris-Brest and, of course, baguettes. Diners can order a treat and a coffee made with Black Market beans and enjoy them propped up at a counter in front of the window, or at a communal table set up in the petite space.

The newly opened Marion Street location is also rolling out Syidalza’s gluten-free croissant, a Wholegreen Bakery best-seller. In fact, the baker spent more than six months perfecting the recipe to do one of his home country’s most treasured culinary icons justice.

Eventually, you can also expect warm and comforting toasties made with the house-baked loaves, and creative projects like Syidalza’s work-in-progress ham-and-cheese croissant.

So, how did a French-trained pastry chef with two decades of experience – who hadn’t worked in the gluten-free realm before moving to Australia four years ago – and no first-hand experience of gluten intolerance end up taking this path?

“I could have gone for a normal pastry business with all my experience, but I loved doing what I did,” he tells Broadsheet. “The most rewarding time for me was when I was working in the gluten-free business.”

For the innovative Syidalza it’s all about offering those who follow a gluten-free diet the same high-quality baked goods that the majority are afforded. He recalls a customer flooded with memories of her trip to Paris 20 years earlier while eating his eclair. “She gave me a hug and had tears in her eye,” he says.

“When you’re a chef, you don’t just cook because it pays the bills or whatever. You want to make people happy and come back for more.”

Sebastien Sans Gluten
131 Marion Street, Leichhardt
(02) 9564 0539

Tue to Fri 6am to 4pm
Sat & Sun 6.30am to 2.30pm