Burbury High Tea 2017 Masthead
Image: Ben, Fusion Photography

L’Orange: a taste of Europe arrives in Manuka

Ashleigh Went

Chef Pattisier Wim has brought a little slice of Europe to Manuka Court with his patisserie, L’Orange

Anyone who’s made the trip to Europe and visited the divine little patisseries will be all too aware how hard it can be to find European quality pastries in Canberra – until now.

Chef Wim certainly isn’t new to the patisserie business, having undertaken a five year apprenticeship as a young man in his small village in Holland. His natural skills allowed him to move from washing dishes to the pastry room in a matter of two weeks at the young age of 14, and the love affair has continued over the course of his life.

“I got a job in a small French bistro, and I remember as a kid going in there and doing the dishes, because that’s all you can really do” explains Chef Wim. “They had a separate pastry room in the kitchen and there was a lady working there, making chocolate mousse with the white and dark swirls and I was absolutely amazed. That’s where it started.”

From there, Chef Wim finished his apprenticeship, running Michelin Starred restaurants before deciding to make the journey to Australia to visit his brother, and ended up relocating permanently to Australia in 1995.

“Coming down here at that time… besides the big hotels, there wasn’t really pastry jobs going around. Sure, there were bakers jobs, but not fine patisserie. I wanted to get more experience under my belt in the kitchen.”

Chef Wim went on to open a number of award winning restaurants, including A Foreign Affair, A Prickly Pear and Two to Tango – but the dream of opening a patisserie was never far from his mind.

Fate had other ideas though, and Chef Wim went on to work as a Sous Chef at the Oak Room at the Hyatt, before joining the team at Maple and Clove in Barton.

“I got really into the health side of things – totally the opposite way. I enjoyed it because it was a challenge to create sweets that were ok to eat. They were sweetened with honey – not bucket loads of caster sugar or processed sugar. I did it for two years, but the pastry kept calling me back.”

When Maple and Clove was sold to an individual operator, Chef Wim worked at the Realm, creating high teas for the Burbury and the Realm. Not long after, he began making pastries to sell at the Old Bus Depot Markets – testing his pastries on the eager palettes of Canberrans.

He had also began scouting a suitable location for his patisserie.

“I did want to specifically be in this area, because I’ve had restaurants here in the past, and it’s a good demographic for us. We’re really trying to bring the quality and standards up – I want to have a pastry shop that you see in France: a nice stone base counter, all the pastries beautifully lined up, everything created from high quality ingredients.”

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Chef Wim found a spot in Manuka Court – sun soaked from the skylight above (while shaded in the warmer months), spacious and grand. You can tell from the excitement and delight on his face that this really is a dream come true for him.

“It is hard in Canberra to make something like this work, we realised we needed to find somewhere to bake off-site, so we have a workroom in Fyshwick where we bake in.”

It really is a labour of love for the pattissier, who’s invested countless hours to bringing the project to fruition.

“I do it because I thoroughly enjoy it. I have to, to be up all night at the age 47. I just keep finding the energy because when you’re really passionate about something, it doesn’t matter how old you are – you do it. It’s not as easy as when I was 37, 0r 26, but you get smarter, you plan better. You’re a bit more confident and you know what you want yourself, so you trust your own intuition.”

Having longed for a European fine patisserie, Chef Wim knew the people of Canberra must have been longing for one too – and he was right.

His delights are based on recipes of French and Dutch classics, with a unique, contemporary twist – an idea reflected in the patisserie’s name.

“My wife came up with the name” says Chef Wim. “Orange is a very national Dutch colour, with our soccer team and our royal family – in England they have the House of Windsor, we have the House of Orange. And because I’m French trained, and a lot of these pastries are French based, that’s where L’Orange came from – a combination of Dutch and French.”

Image: Ben, Fusion Photography

Image: Ben, Fusion Photography

The opening of L’Orange has not gone unnoticed, especially by the ‘Dutchies’ of the community, who’ve come forth requesting delicacies of their homeland, including my personal favourite, Speculaas.

“The Dutch are very big with their spice, because back in the 16th and 17th centuries, they were big traders of cinnamon and tea in Indonesia – which was a Dutch colony back in the day. That comes back through some of my recipes. I make the speculaas mixes myself, it’s six spices: cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, white pepper and cloves. I had to dig up some very old cookbooks from my grandmother to find these original recipes.”

Chef Wim also begged the baker from his home village in Holland to share some of his traditional Dutch recipes.

The result is a delectable blend of traditional and contemporary flavours that make every delicate morsel utterly divine. In addition to his collection of pastries, Chef Wim has also created paninis for the Manuka lunch crowd.

“It’s something I would eat as a European – I want a good Panini with nice cold cut meats, a good olive oil based focaccia style Italian bread. Not toasted with all the lettuce and the tomato in it where it gets all soggy and yucky, I hate that.”

Don’t we all? The paninis, as with all Chef Wim’s creations, are made with the finest ingredients – something he’s passionate about.

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While we’re yet to taste every item resting delicately on L’Oranges beautiful stone counter top, the HerCanberra team was lucky enough to sample his high tea, which includes petite mousses, roulades, tarts and profiteroles and can assure you that it’s just as delicious and special as something you’d pick up in Paris.

Chef Wim and his team have gone above and beyond to make L’Orange an exceptional experience for his customers. He spent over 100 hours creating a chocolate windmill complete with moving blades. Standing at over a metre tall and weighing four kilograms, it’s something to behold – the perfect representation of Chef Wim and L’Orange Pattisserie.

 

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Ashleigh Went

Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. She’s currently furthering her studies in nutrition, but also has a Bachelor of Communication and is a qualified fitness instructor with over five years experience working in a gym. Among other things, she’s a lover of great food, coffee and fashion. She can usually be found shopping for activewear, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue More about the Author

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