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April 21, 2020
Habits

Meet Adelaide’s newest pastry player Mascavado Café & Pâtisserie

Mascavado founder Lea Chairesa has launched her modern French pâtisserie on Hutt Street to "stir up" the Adelaide pastry scene.

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  • Words and pictures: Johnny von Einem

A new café and patisserie fit out into an old Commonwealth Bank on Hutt Street has introduced a new player to Adelaide’s pastry scene.

Mascavado was founded by pâtissier Lea Chairesa, who moved to Adelaide from Sydney just over a year ago, when work on the project first began.

Remarks

Mascavado Café & Pâtisserie
175 Hut Street, Adelaide 5000
Mon—Fri: 7am ’til 4pm
Sat—Sun: 8am ’til 3pm

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Lea fostered a love for baking growing up (“I kept begging my mum to buy me those Betty Crocker cake packet mix,” she laughs) and while on work experience as part of her high school’s year 10, she spent a week working in the burgeoning Newtown pastry shop Black Star Pastry.

Throughout that week, she would work six-hour days, which were exhausting, “but I enjoyed it every day,” she says.

The half-days would soon seem like a cakewalk; Lea graduated into the industry proper two years later and then moved into restaurants – working as a pastry chef at both KOI Dessert Bar and Cirrus Dining.

Two years ago, Lea started to consider what a venue of her own might look like. She moved back to her home city of Jakarta for two months, where her dad pushed her to return to Australia and make something happen.

While it would have been easier in some respects to set up in Sydney, given that’s where Lea had spent her career to date, she felt the market was already flooded with patisseries – in fact, almost every niche possible had already been filled.

“You can find everything in Sydney and Melbourne – like even if it’s pop-ups, you can find whisky and fried chicken, whatever it is,” she laughs.

She toured through Brisbane, Hobart and Adelaide to find a new home for herself, and fertile ground in which to plant her business.

“A lot of people have told me, ‘You’re going to be bored in Adelaide. It’s really small.’ Because I came from Jakarta, Indonesia, then I went to Sydney, so another big city,” she says.

“I came here, and I actually liked it. You guys have everything – it’s small, but it’s complete.”

But not so complete that there wasn’t room for another café and patisserie. Unlike our city’s bustling bar scene, Lea noticed the pastry market had relatively few players.

“Coming from Sydney or Melbourne [where] you have millions of options to go to… here, you have three, four that are top, you know?” Lea says.

“I thought, let’s stir that up,” she laughs.

Mascavado founder Lea Chairesa

 

With a signed lease on Hutt Street, Lea contracted design firms Sans-Arc, for the fit out, and Peculiar Familia for branding. Mascavado announced its soft launch in March.

The space’s 100sqms stretch far back, with the seating and service area filled with pale blue, white, grey and timber hues. The business’ logo mimics half the chemical compound for sugar – Mascavado being a Portuguese word for unrefined sugar.

Some savoury options are available, but primarily Lea’s work is expressed through sweets (again – Mascavado).

“It’s just a more modern take on that French patisserie, I guess,” she says.

“I love bringing back to basics, a croissant or a plain brownie or a fruit tart or whatever, but I like to add that much more depth into it.

“Like, my Danishes, it’s not just a berry Danish, I put rosemary in it, so it’s rosemary and berry, I’ve got pear and ginger.

“I love combining flavours, and I love using liquors, I love using spices. One of the brownies I have is a chai blondie, so it’s got all these spices in it.

“Just that little bit extra to make it a bit more memorable.”

One of the benefits of being located in South Australia is the abundance of high-quality produce, Lea says, which not only goes for her pastry items, but also the coffee. Mascavado uses Elementary coffee, and also has an array of dietary-sensitive milks on offer.

Potter Marcella Chandra is an Indonesia-based pastry-chef-turned-ceramacist, and a close friend of Lea’s

 

The paintings lining the shop’s southern wall are from Minneapolis-based artist Nick Dahlen, sourced by Peculiar Familia founder Carlo Jensen, and all of Mascavado’s crockery is made custom by Indonesian ceramicist, Cella Ceramic Studio.

There has been a great response to Mascavado so far, Lea says, particularly from locals living along the southern border of the CBD.

“Everyone’s pretty happy, that I know of,” she laughs.

“They’re surprised that I’m opening at this time, but they keep coming back.

“I already have a few regulars. I love them. So that’s pretty much what keeps me going every day.”

Mascavado is located at 175 Hutt Street and opens from 7am ‘til 4pm Monday through Friday and 8am ‘til 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.

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