There’s an atmosphere here you won’t find elsewhere in Brisbane. Pleasure is at the heart of the Chouquette experience; from the murmur of conversations in French, enticing aromas wafting from the adjacent kitchen to the smell of freshly ground coffee. It’s a unique sensory experience and a treasured ritual for members of the community and has become a celebrated institution over the past 10 years.
Chouquette founder and managing director Lara Keating grew up with a great appreciation for French culture and language thanks to her French mother. She yearned for the beautiful pastries and croissants she’d enjoyed during her extended visits to France over the years and decided the best solution was to provide them herself. She was also looking for a change from her career in the finance industry – and so the idea of Chouquette was born.
Following a short baking course at France’s Institut National de Boulangerie Pâtisserie Lara returned home to search for the ideal premises. Her desire to create an authentic, high-quality product saw her call on her contacts in France to help recruit French chefs and bakers for the business. Finally the dream was realised when Chouquette opened its doors in December 2006.
"Our senior bakers and pastry chefs are French-born and trained and work alongside our Australian staff to ensure time-honoured techniques are upheld. Bread is made according to the traditional method of slow fermentation, using only pure ingredients of the highest quality." Chouquette has received widespread acclaim in culinary and baking circles for its exquisite bread, pastry and pâtisserie. Lara credits her staff with these achievements. “I do think of them as artists and creators of fine food – ‘gourmandises et du bon pain’ as they would say in French.”
As demand for products grew, a sister business was the natural progression for Chouquette. In 2013 Crust & Co. opened its doors in Wilston as a wholesale business, supplying restaurants, cafes and gourmet grocers with the same quality bread and viennoiserie that Chouquette customers had grown to love. After being Head Baker at Chouquette for four years, Frenchman Sebastien Pisasale now oversees operations at Crust & Co. as co-owner of the Wilston business.