Chris Thé is surprised that news of Black Star Pastry's migration from Sydney to Melbourne has caused so much fuss after posting the news on social media this week. But he's pretty much the only one. The creator of the strawberry and watermelon cake that took Instagram by storm has a knack for inventing the sort of dishes for which smart phones were invented; for three months from mid-February - and possibly beyond - Melbourne residents will be able to get their own hit of his click-then-consume cakes.
Thé, who trained as a chef and pâtissier at Claude's and later worked at Bel Mondo and Quay, opened his first Black Star Pastry in Sydney's Newtown in 2008 and has since followed it with two more, in Rosebery and the CBD. "I've had my eye on Melbourne for a while now and thanks to my mate James Meehan from Café Italia, the opportunity came up to use Italia's little unused kitchen. It's a pop-up that might stick around for a while."
Opening on 20 February, Melbourne's Black Star is a tight space - only 20 seats with a courtyard - which means no bread or savoury items for now. But that's the extent of the bad news. The good news is that Thé's executive chef Samuel Yeo will be moving down to oversee the Carlton outpost's cake and coffee focus. It will be home to that strawberry and watermelon cake (they currently sell around 5000 slices a day) along with a host of other Black Star hits such as the raspberry lychee cake, orange and Persian fig cake, and richer-than-Croesus torte of Amadei chocolate and hazelnut anda newly developed black sesame and yuzu cake. Coffee will be from Sydney artisan roaster Little Marionette, tea will come from Tippity and like the Sydney outlets, it will aim for a carbon neutral or even negative rating thanks to initiatives such as biodegradable coffee cups and cake boxes. "We're constantly working out ways of being more sustainable without making people feel guilty, and how we can eliminate waste," says Thé.
For all his amazement at the powers of social media, Thé is confident that the Melbourne shop will fly.
"We'd love to have a permanent thing in Melbourne but this is just a little opportunity to get down without laying concrete and building a kitchen."
Black Star Pastry , 56-66 University Street, Carlton, open Monday to Saturday 9am-8pm; Sunday 9am-3pm, blackstarpastry.com.au