What if you combine French cuisine with Australian cafe culture and add a splash of punchy Korean flavors? You get the unexpected (but so welcome) Baguette Studios, a bakery and cafe in North Melbourne.
Pastry chef Aileen Seo, along with her brother (Chef Jiho Sur) and her baker husband (Paul Kwon) opened the place late last year so everyone could work together while showing off their specific skills.
Kwon bakes a selection of breads and pastries, Sur prepares sandwiches and weekend specials, and Seo manages the place.
Both Seo and Sur, who are originally from Seoul, studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney and spent time in France, which influenced their cooking. “When I was in Paris, I visited many restaurants and bakeries. Everything was very good, but it’s the very simple baguette and things like the jambon-beurre that struck me the most,” says Seo. “Since I live in Australia, I am also inspired by nature and local products.”
As the name suggests, baguettes are the bread and butter of Baguette Studio. There’s a traditional one on the menu, made with NSW single-origin flour, as well as a smaller pretzel baguette (which makes a great savory snack) and pain d’épi (a beautifully stem-shaped baguette). wheat).
The chocolate baguette is a different beast altogether, a sweet snack or dessert in itself. Made with flour, chocolate powder and chocolate chips, it is filled with Nutella cream.
Sur uses the baguettes and other types of bread baked by Kwon to make their sandwiches. The ham and cheese on the traditional baguette is a crowd favorite and easily rivals the sandwiches he finds in the best Parisian bakeries.
The trio tried many different hams, but couldn’t find the right one for their baguette at the market, so Sur spent one of the last lockdowns perfecting his own home-cured recipe.
When assembling the sandwich, he weighs each item—Black Berkshire ham, Gruyère cheese, pickles, and butter—to create a consistent, flawless product.
Between French sandwiches, there’s always a Korean-inspired item on the menu. “My origin is Korean and I love the culture,” says Seo. There have been bulgogi cheesesteak and Korean fried chicken burger, and currently, a cheeseburger on a milk bun with a wagyu patty marinated in a galbi for two days.
“When I was in Paris, I visited many restaurants and bakeries. Everything was very good, but it’s the very simple baguette and things like the jambon-beurre that made the biggest impression on me.”
Another subtle nod to the three owners’ Korean heritage are the white moon jars you’ll see on the wooden shelves between the bread and pastries. “Moon jars, made from earth, will withstand harsh processing and have a nice shine. They symbolize the idea of loving and respecting nature, and how we treat natural ingredients with a precious and transparent mind,” explains Seo.
As for pastries, you can find sweet treats inspired by the season, such as the Danish apple crumble or cotton candy grape cake.
On weekends there are also more elaborate specialties like truffled eggs, French onion soup and vanilla mille-feuille.
On the drink menu, there are all the usual caffeinated suspects, but if you have a sweet tooth, you can’t get past the caramel cream latte. Inspired by Korean coffee culture, this iced latte is topped with caramel sauce and caramel cream.
Baguette Studio’s kitchen is small, so the team keeps a tight menu and likes to change it frequently, partly to stay creative, but also to keep things interesting for their customers, who are mostly regulars who work in surrounding hospitals and offices.
Some things sell out at the end of the day, but Seo, Sur, and Kwon hope to expand their offerings by making different types of bread, including a soft milk bread that will hit shelves soon.
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15-27 Wreckyn St, North Melbourne
Tue – Fri 7 am – 3 pm
Saturday – Sunday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.