Next door to the fabulous Moss on Fitzroy Street is the equally (if not more so!?) fabulous Baker D.Chirico. This proximity to my place of work arguably makes me slightly biased but I feel this place truly epitomizes Melbourne's infatuation with good food. Everyday, but especially Saturday, Melburnians travel across the city for a loaf of bread. On Christmas Eve I bore witness to early-morning hoards of people queuing up out the door, down the steps and along the street, to claim pre-ordered (!) loaves, cakes and pastries. I hear it is even worse at Easter. This is some place!
|Image courtesy of Broadsheet Melbourne|
I have a bit of a love affair with the mere thought of this place. Unlike great European patisseries, there is nothing about Baker D. Chiciro that is pretentious or ostentatious. Huge sacks of flour are piled up in the corner and food is arranged and piled and never knowingly styled into place. Whilst everything tastes phenomenal; my boyfriend proclaimed upon his first tart that one cannot claimed to have lived until trying French pattisserie chef Louis' pastry, nothing looks the same and there is not an assembly-line in sight. The staff and customers are on first name-basis and the girls who work the counter are a truly beautiful bunch, blue eyed and fresh-faced, despite the early starts a bakery workers' life naturally entails.
But there are fantastic bakeries everywhere, and all over the world surely? Indeed. And perhaps I am biased. I'm privileged to work in such proximity that I know the staff by name, I can gain insider recommendations and trading secrets. But there is no bias in the way that Baker's popularity speaks for itself. Returning to an earlier comparison with London's culinary scene: Londoners queue for tables at top restaurants and checkouts in Waitrose, they don't queue along the street or cross cities for bread in bakeries or a few tarts, however good. A real dedication and a commitment to good food exisits in Melbourne, on every layer. No-one is quite sure where this attention to and appreciation of food came from originally, but I know one thing, I'm certainly taking its ethos home with me.