The wonderful thing about Wellington is that you're never too far from a food discovery. If you find yourself yearning for something sweet on a typically wintry Wellington day, I have just the place for you.
Sitting pretty in the coastal suburb of Kilbirnie, neighbouring Lyall Bay, you'll find Sugar Flour – a brand spanking new patisserie that originally started as a blog, creating delicious baked goods made with seasonal produce and lots of love.
Owner-operator Maxine Scheckter grew up in Lyall Bay, not far from her newly minted bricks and mortar; but the days of birthdays cakes and bake sales have blossomed into an exciting world of education and experience, something that Maxine is passionate about sharing now with her hometown. Her passion for cooking began at a young age. The South African-raised 22-year-old was taught by her parents to appreciate food and the work that’s gone in to preparing it. Her parents own the popular food store Ontrays and have been importing quality food into Wellington for many years. Maxine started her formal training at 17, when she enrolled into a one year culinary course at WelTec, followed by 6 months in their patisserie course.
Maxine then made her way to Paris furthering her studies at Ferrandi L’ecole Gastronomie where she spent six months studying, and six months as a stagiere at a patisserie called Gateaux Thoumieux. Maxine entered the UK’s highly competitive pastry chef industry, in which she eventually landed her dream job working at three Michelin star restaurant The Fat Duck, owned by master of molecular gastronomy, Heston Blumenthal. After ticking that off the bucket list (as you do), Maxine decided it was high-time to head home.
Good things take time and this is something Maxine knows well. From Monday to Thursday, she spends her days prepping and brainstorming new pastry ideas. Come Friday, she rises at 3am to bake and assemble the fresh pastries and prep for weekend service. The shop's layout boasts plenty of space to sit and enjoy your treats in-store, accompanied by a deliciously fruity filter coffee or one of the teas from their extensive selection. At the far end of the shop is the main counter, where all pastries are beautifully arranged on their own stage, each as perfect as the next. The stunning selection I sampled included a Cherry Sable Breton – a buttery shortbread that originated in Brittany, topped with a cherry compote and dollop of clotted cream.
The Itakuja tart, a combination of prune puree and Valrhona Itakuja Chocolate Ganache, made with Brazilian cocoa beans that have been fermented in passionfruit. The tart is then filled with candied hazelnuts, dried cranberries, peaches, cherries and freeze-dried strawberries. My all-time favourite is the Chocolate Canele; a chocolate custard, baked in a copper mould to achieve a crispy exterior and an interior that's as light as air. Everything was executed to the highest standard and you could definitely taste the love. Sugar Flour’s Visa Wellington On a Plate fixture is bound to wow the foodie crowds come August, where Maxine will show guests how to explore the sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami flavour profiles, instructing on how to layer dishes with complexity at home.
Sugar Flour is an absolute must-visit and well-worth the trip out to Kilbirnie. Savour the relaxed vibe with someone special, or pick up some goodies to take back to the office – if a box of these sweet treats don't make you employee of the month, I'm afraid nothing will.
29 Coutts Street,
Monday: 9am – 5pm.
Saturday and Sunday: 8am – 3pm.