Sydney, Australia isn’t usually the first place people think of – internationally – when they want to complete their pastry apprenticeship. “People always ask me, ‘Why Sydney, why not Paris or somewhere like that?’ and I can’t really explain it, it was just this thing that happened,” says Franca Zingler.
After beginning her apprenticeship at a prestigious hotel restaurant in the Black Forest in her native Germany (specifically, in the valley that has the highest concentration of Michelin stars in the country), a series of unfortunate (the economic crisis hit Germany) and fortunate (a friend moved to Sydney and sent back glowing reports) events resulted in Zingler completing her studies at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney.
Sydney is the richer for it. With her fine-dining background, along with lengthy stints at Adriano Zumbo and Cornersmith, Zingler has gradually been working towards opening a business that combines her love of design and aesthetics with seasonal baking.
The focus of the business is cakes for weddings and special occasions. The turning point came after friends asked Zingler to make their wedding cake. “That was such an amazing experience. I thought: wouldn’t it be good to start my own thing where I can really listen to what customers want, see what flavours they like, [what] style they’re into, give them something a little bit different – a custom cake.”
Cakes may be made to order but Zingler puts her distinctive stamp on them. “It’s got to be a show-stopper,” she says. “But I also think it’s so important that you get clean flavours. I still feel like there’s a niche for more natural cakes and seasonal baking.” As a result you won't find any fondant icing here, nor anything inedible piled on top. Instead delicately iced beauties might be topped with curls of fresh seasonal fruit and edible flowers.
Altogether it makes for a pretty package, teamed with the classic good looks of the 1972 Volkswagen Kombi, named Janosch. Together they’re currently doing a small weekly run to Redfern Continental and Gypsy Espresso, delivering classic German and European treats such as cinnamon buns, Sachertorte (Viennese chocolate cake) and Berliner (jam-filled) donuts. The plan is to eventually fit the van out with a coffee machine and a counter for weddings, festivals and markets.
Much like her approach to baking, Zingler wants to keep the Kombi true to its original form. “I don't want to fiddle around with it too much,” she says. “It’s a beautiful design and they’ve lasted so long. Mine's from ’72. ¬It’s older than me and it’s still driving like a dream.” Zingler smiles, “And there’s something about being a Kombi owner that’s really special. You see other people in Kombis and you do the Volkswagen thing – you go ‘Heyyy’,” she says as she flips a peace sign.