Restaurant Awards

Gourmet Traveller Hospitality Honours List 2020: bakery & produce pros

Leaders in transformation, these restaurants and stores supplied baked goods and gourmet groceries at a time when supermarket shelves were empty.

By Michael Harden & Jordan Kretchmer
Inside Melbourne's Babajan.

Babajan 2.0

Babajan owner Kirsty Chiaplias permanently switched her Carlton North brunch haven to a takeaway Turkish emporium. Floor-to-ceiling timber bakery shelves are now packed with böreks, simits, bread and pastries, while the front counter is filled with an abundance of pilafs and salads, Turkish fish sandwiches, cakes and family meals of moussaka, 12-hour braised lamb shoulders and more. The new-look Babajan also includes Turkish and Middle Eastern pantry staples, such as harissa, Aleppo, za'atar, zhoug and olives, alongside groceries. "Customers might not be able to sit down and enjoy an eggplant-Aleppo toastie right now, but they can buy a jar of Aleppo, a loaf of sourdough, eggs and pickles to recreate it at home," says Chiaplias.
While keeping positive in this interim period, Chiaplias is pinning her hopes on the introduction of outdoor seating as restrictions are eased. "I'd love to have people sit outside with a coffee or a glass of wine," she says. "To put food on a plate would really be something."
Babajan owner Kirsty Chiaplias. Photo: Arianna Leggiero

The Summertown Aristologist vegetable boxes

This Adelaide Hills restaurant offered organic vegetable boxes from the beginning of lockdown. The shop-pivot also included bunches of freshly picked native flowers, wine and coffee. It was the perfect warm-up for its larder-meets-cellar door, which opened in June.

Marta's Roman bakery

It wasn't unusual to see a queue snaking 20-plus metres from this Rushcutters Bay restaurant-turned-Roman bakery. That's because its sfogliatelle stuffed with prosciutto and herbed ricotta, mortadella- and provolone-filled panini and profiteroles with piped coffee cream had half of Sydney talking.

Cafe Paci’s Finnish bakery

Pasi Petänen has always been fiercely innovative, so it was no surprise that his iteration of a bakery was one of the most clever and forward-thinking in Sydney. Punters queued in neatly distanced lines to snap up Finnish pastries and playful bakery treats, like black pudding sausage rolls, carrot-and-licorice cakes (a fun take on a Cafe Paci dessert), and potato and molasses rye bread topped with gravlax.

Agnes bakery + bottle shop

Chef Ben Williamson was slated to open his new Brisbane restaurant in March, but instead Agnes opened as a bakery and bottle shop. The temporary fixture sold smoked potato sourdough, fig and custard kouign-amanns, pumpkin and pork pizzette, and rosewater brûlée choux buns, alongside cheese, salumi, pickles and smoked butter.

Sixpenny's General Store

For three months this fine-diner in Sydney's Stanmore operated as a general store. Instead of preparing a modern-Australian tasting menu for 34 diners, Dan Puskas and his team baked cakes and loaves of sourdough, made jam, and filled bottles with Sixpenny chilli sauce to be sold to a never-ending line of customers that formed outside the restaurant each weekend. "We'd open orders at 5pm on Friday, and by Saturday morning there would be 90 or so orders. Some people spent $300 on cake!" recalls Puskas. "We weren't expecting such a positive response."

Marion’s vegetable boxes and bakery

Quick thinking kept Andrew McConnell's Fitzroy wine bar powering through the pandemic via vegetable boxes (with recipe suggestions for signature dishes) and a collaboration with one of Melbourne's best bakeries Baker Bleu that granted northsiders access to that raisin and cinnamon challah. Along with selling wine, bread, produce and take-home meals, Marion also dished up a much-needed sense of community that's now taking roost at Morning Market, the permanent grocery store just a few doors from Marion.
Marion's fresh pastries.

St Ali General Store

Calling St Ali coffee roasters or a café no longer suffices. In response to the pandemic, it produced hand sanitiser, sustainable hemp and copper face masks, and ran a general store, which showcased the best producers from right across Victoria.

Seasons Fruit Market online

When lockdown saw Sydney's Chinatown shuttered, the hit to this mostly wholesale grocery store was instant. So the Fu family decided to take Seasons Fruit Market online, selling home-delivered Asian groceries. The online store was a radical change, considering the shop only installed an Eftpos machine in late 2019. But the future-proofed online store is now here to stay.
Irene and Chi Ching Fu, son Danny Fu and Danny's partner Jen Ng outside Season's Fruit Market.

King & Godfree groceries

Just after a substantial renovation transformed King & Godfree from deli and bottle shop to a sleek dining hub, Melbourne's oldest licensed grocery store deftly returned to its roots offering an extensive, Italian-leaning range of grocery, deli and bottle shop items alongside a take-home meals menu of Italy's greatest hits.
King & Godfree's extensive Italian-leaning range of groceries. Photo: Sarah Pannell

Thai Kee IGA chef meals

This independent grocery store in Sydney's Haymarket supplied chef-prepped meals from the likes of Ho Jiak, Chaco Ramen, Ippudo and Sydney Cebu Lechon, as well as chilli oil made by Patrick Friesen and dumplings by Lotus head chef Sam Young.

Tedesca Osteria’s curated weekly boxes

Brigitte Hafner's Mornington Peninsula osteria was created with a fierce focus on local produce when it opened in January. No surprise then that its beautifully considered Weekly Box of cooked goods and raw produce stuck to the theme. Local lamb, vegetables, cheese and fruit came in themed combinations, matched with cocktails and wine.

Brae produce boxes

Dan Hunter and his team had put too much love into the vegetable gardens, orchards and paddocks surrounding Brae to let any of that good stuff go to waste. So they became market gardeners, selling boxes of fresh organic produce alongside baked goods from the wood-fired oven, take-home meals and a few groceries.
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  • undefined: Michael Harden & Jordan Kretchmer