Neil Perry visits his favourite bakery in Fitzroy, where the croissants have earned cult status and the pastries are pure perfection.
Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne’s Fitzroy makes some of the world’s greatest pastries. Believe me, I know my pastries. I’ve eaten a lot of them in countries that are famous for their pâtisseries. And I’m not the only one who thinks this place is sensational; the 60-odd people queuing with me clearly agree.
It’s not just the pastries that make Lune an incredible experience. It’s also the story, the process, the beauty of the space and the endeavour of the team that captivates me.
The story is this. Kate Reid trains as an aerospace engineer but after three years as an aerodynamicist for Formula One cars at Williams in England (yes, really!), she decides it’s not for her and returns home for some R&R and a stint in hospitality. She reads a French pâtisserie cookbook and can’t stop looking at a close-up shot of beautiful, flaky croissants. That picture alone compels her to take a holiday to Paris to find the baker, Christophe Vasseur of Du Pain et des Idées. She asks him for a three-month internship and upon seeing her passion and commitment, he agrees.
Funnily enough, her experience in design and engineering helps her to become an incredibly thoughtful pastry chef. Making the perfect croissant, she says, “can be harder than designing a car”. Milk, butter, eggs and even flour change seasonally (and almost daily), which means nothing can be taken for granted.
Enter Kate’s brother, Cameron, who has front-of-house experience in restaurants and bars. Together they open Lune Croissanterie, a hole-in-the-wall bakery in Elwood where customers routinely arrive before dawn for their pastry fix. Two years later, in 2015, they – and partner Nathan Toleman – move to a warehouse at 119 Rose Street, Fitzroy.
It’s at this time that Cam says to Kate: “If we are going to grow this business, you’re going to have to teach me everything you know about croissant-making.” A great baking partnership is formed, the queue just keeps getting longer and The New York Times weighs in, saying Lune’s croissants “may be the finest you will find anywhere in the world”.
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Today I’m sitting at the counter, looking into what Kate calls “The Cube”. It’s a glass temperature-controlled box that houses a massive marble table (where the croissants are formed), the dough sheeter, large mixers and a number of fridges. Kate says they took the large warehouse and simply created the most functional space in which to make impeccable croissants. That’s something of an understatement – the bakery’s premises are almost as beautiful as the pastries.
Despite the queue, Kate and Cam never rush the customer. Patrons are gently guided through the menu and their chosen pastries are then lovingly placed in a box to treasure. It’s only fitting that each flaky gem is treated with care – it has taken three days to get it to this state of perfection.
And the taste? A crust of earth-shattering, brittle crispness, the perfect lamination of the pastry giving way to a warm, melting interior that coats your mouth with a buttery flavour that’s clean and delicious. This isn’t a greasy pastry to eat while rushing to work; this croissant needs to be considered and appreciated for its craftsmanship.
As I indulge in a ham-and-cheese croissant (life-changing, by the way), I’m overwhelmed by the sense of generosity and warmth all around me. I see poise and precision, passion and commitment, joyfulness and togetherness – not just of a sister and brother working as one but also of an entire team driven by the commitment of these two extraordinary young people.
It’s been a while since I walked into a place, watched a team at work and left spellbound. Time is what these beautiful, delicate pastries demand. If there’s a queue, join it! Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
If you have limited time, there is another option. Kate and Cam offer a Lune Lab experience. For $50 (per person), you’ll
get a seat at the bar (no queuing), three croissants (traditional, savoury and sweet) and unlimited coffee. That sounds pretty sweet to me. ￼
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