Chef Wim Den Hartog has brought more than 30 years’ experience in Michelin-starred restaurants and some of Canberra’s best-known hospitality names to the creation of the L’Orange Patisserie.
His career began as a 14-year-old in his native Holland as it does for most young hospitality workers – as a kitchen hand and sinks full of washing up.
But Wim’s passion for food soon saw him entered into an apprenticeship and the youngster’s career direction was forged over, of all things, the humble mousse.
“I was working in a French bistro that had a separate pastry room where a woman worked, making chocolate mousse,” he says.
“I was fascinated with the white and dark swirls and how it all folded together. I was absolutely entranced. That’s where it started.”
Since that culinary epiphany, Chef Wim has mastered his art and his philosophy that ensures his cakes, pastries and desserts are more than just momentary pleasures, they are experiences to be savoured, remembered and repeated.
“Guests should approach this as a delightful ritual to be enjoyed with friends or family,” he says.
“Our high teas are the ultimate experience, a pure piece of theatre to be enjoyed and over which to linger: a selection of the finest pastries, refreshing tea or freshly brewed coffee and great conversation with intimate company. It can’t be beaten.”
“I often hear people say they’d love to enjoy more cakes and pastries, but it’s not good for their waistlines or the sugar and fat are not good for their health,” Chef Wim says.
“Any over-indulgence is not good for you, but, on the other hand, you should never deny yourself an innocent pleasure – especially one you can enjoy with family and friends.”
Chef Wim’s creations are handcrafted in the finest traditions of Europe, but he has certainly been influenced by modern culture’s health-consciousness.
“I’m certainly mindful of the need for gluten-free options and I also look to replace sugar with alternatives like Manuka honey or fruit pulp wherever that complements the creation,” he says.
“As our cakes, pastries and flans are made fresh daily, there is no need for preservatives or other artificial agents. Our products are as natural as possible.”
It is said that the modern culture of the patisserie began after the French revolution and continued to gain in population throughout the 19 th century.
A master of the art was a certain Louis Ernest Ladurée who opened his first venue, Opera Garnier, in Paris 1871.
Legend attributes the idea to his wife who suggested combining the patisserie with the cafe and, voila, the salon de the was born.
It struck an immediate chord with fashionable society, particularly ladies who wanted to indulge themselves, but to remain aloof from the habitues of the bohemians of the less respectable café society.
The rest, as they say, is history.