I have been living a mere few blocks away from the most delicious and authentically French pastries being made right here in Ballarat for just over a year now. Why did I not know about Le Petit Patissier aka Alain, before now? Although my waistline may be thanking me I feel as if I have stumbled upon an amazing fine pastry world that is bustling with bon jours, baguettes and bon vivant. Located on Sturt Street just near the old Ballarat Fire Station, this little cafe has become my go to for the most magnificent bread baked in Ballarat. Thanks to a tip off from Yamelly and Jose at Meigas (they use Alain's baguettes for their Spanish Rolls) I wasted no time in securing myself some fresh crusty loaves to have toasted over the Christmas New Year break. Little did I know that I would be entranced by the most amazing selection of French tarts, pastries and cakes on display, and yes I have been trying an assortment of these purely for research purposes on a regular basis. In case you were wondering everything is made daily on the premises by Alain.
After numerous visits to acquire research supplies and sighting Alain creating his pastry magic I finally introduced myself and admitted I had been carefully documenting his products and would he mind if I asked him a few questions for the Ballaratfood.com review. Thank you Alain for being such a gracious interviewee amidst the action of a very busy Monday lunch hour at Le Petit Patissier, there was not a spare seat in the house.
Alain commenced his career as an apprentice patissier in a pastry shop in Agen France, between Toulouse and Bordeaux many years ago. He worked for many more years as a patissier in France before deciding to embark on pastry adventures in Australia in 1991. Alain had a pastry shop in Malvern and received customer requests for his amazing bread, so he relented and added bread to his range. Thirteen months ago after talking to a customer about Ballarat and the likelihood of a French Patissier being well received in such a place, Alain commenced the operations of Le Petit Patissier at 628 Sturt Street. The good news is Alain loves it, quite possibly as much as his customers love his fine produce.
I decide to stay for lunch on this Monday, most of the customers arrive with the greeting "Bonjour, ca va?", leading to me to ask Alain, "Are a lot of your customers French?" He smiles and shakes his head. "No, we just like to encourage people to speak some French and a lot do." He's right, a regular customer tells me she has met many lovely people on her visits and also came here with her French class. She also told me Alain was responsible for many of the fine croissants, bread and pastries on offer at restaurants around the region, the quality of his work is good. "Where else could you get fresh chocolate croissants on Christmas morning?" she asks me. I immediately turn to Alain, "Is this true? Were you open on Christmas Day?" He smiles and nods. Indeed he was, he makes croquembouche for Christmas orders and he makes them Christmas morning so they are fresh. Newsflash - for lovers of fine pastry desserts for next Christmas, Alain takes orders for goodies baked fresh on Christmas morning.
As I finish off a heavenly flakey, buttery layered almond croissant I ask Alain about his most popular seller. It's the baguettes, they seriously are a recommendation if you are a fan of good baguettes. If you are wondering what Alain's favourite indulgence from his line up is, he says he likes a little bit of everything. On that point I concur, everything I have tasted so far is divine, baguettes, loaves, sausage rolls, almond croissants, classic croissants, eclairs, tarts, vanilla slices. Alas there are also the items I am yet to try; béchamel croissants, spinach pastries, petit fours, gateaux. I am still amazed that you can even get fresh béchamel croissants in Ballarat. Oh my goodness it's all so good, you really must check it out for yourself. I would love to know what is your favourite Le Petit Patissier product?