As some of you know I am a well qualified baker and pastry chef by trade, trained by a well known family bakery and patisserie just outside Hamburg in Germany. A few years back, I had the opportunity to work at Harvest Cafe in Newrybar, a small town in beautiful Byron Bay hinterland. Litte did I know what Harvest Cafe had in stall for me, a surprise in many ways.
Newrybar itself was founded in the late 1880s and still has the charm of its historic past. This ‘one street town’ is literally flying under the radar of the old pacific highway, which has become a popular tourist route since the upgrade. I passed this very small community on the old Pacific Highway many times before, but I never noticed this hidden, but the well-known gem in the area. I was even more surprised when I was called in for a job interview.
Harvest Cafe’s restaurant, deli, and wood-fired oven artisan bakery has a wow factor ambiance which is noticed immediately. The wood-fired bread oven was installed decades ago and was well known as the ‘sourdough king bakery’.
The historic family house was converted to a modern kitchen in an old style restaurant, as was the deli building opposite to the restaurant.
All bakery staff left at the same time and I was appointed to be in charge of the bakery and pastry section, my biggest professional challenge yet. All recipes needed an overhaul to ensure constant and equal quality. Only if I know exactly how to use the recipes and wood-fired oven, I was able to teach my young, fairly inexperienced team. The result was convincing.
Yeast free sourdough bread was baked golden brown with a clean cut as breakout point.
The 5 seed sourdough was just as popular with customers, as was heavy fruit loaf, which had 20% fruit content.
My personal favorite, however, was the olive and rosemary Ciabatta, fresh out of the oven. Croissant and pastry production was my pride and joy.
Extensive previous experience with these delicate pastries resulted in a large variety of croissants, pain au chocolate, pain aux raisin, cinnamon twists, and multiple types of fruit and savoury danish.
all of the yummy pastry creations proved extremely popular with the customers.
Almond croissants were high on the consumers’ list.
It gave me enormous satisfaction to create and bake this French specialty pastry.
Sourdough Saturday’s and Sundays were the standout exhibition days for our bakery and pastry section.
The large, comfortable seating area was opened to the public, which could sit out in the garden sun as well.
Wooden planks held freshly baked sourdough bread, which had been mostly baked by my workmate Shailesh.
A large selection of our specialty pastries and cakes were on display to tempt the customers.
Portuguese tarts were very popular, a custom made recipe.
Mille-feuille, or vanilla slice, were coated and decorated with icing sugar. Australians love a Vanilla slice.
‘Berliner’ donuts were freshly deep fried in two rather small deep fryers.
Croquembouche, a French delicacy, were garnished with liquid sugar caramel in front of astonishing customer’s eyes.
These sugar strings looked like fine blond hair against the sun.
Chocolate and yoghurt mousse cakes could be pre-ordered from our friendly sales staff,
which complimented the Harvest market vibe.
Customers met for coffee and fresh cakes whilst sourdough bread was baked in the oven, a brilliant concept.
Seasonal baking goods were baked freshly produced as well.
Hot cross buns are a favourite for Easter, while the selection over Christmas varied even more. Traditional German goods such as marzipan stollen and cinnamon star cookies kept me even busier over the Christmas period. Lebkuchen are traditionally from Germany and famous worldwide. Known in Australia as Gingerbread, we produced German-style gingerbread men and houses. Communication in between one Michelin star restaurant, a gourmet homemade deli and event staff was a key factor for a harmonious work environment within the Harvest family.
Even though working in this very busy environment, bad tempers hardly ever flared within work colleagues all around. An efficient professional, happy and friendly etiquette towards any customer kept everyone in tune with the Harvest vibe.
That seemed to be the case with friendly critters too.
A green tree frog felt at home in the toilet area.
Now and then, he appeared and made himself at home with a big smile on his face.
This water dragon enjoyed a cooling spa in the water fountain.
He was always cautious by who is around him.
I stayed at ‘Harvest Cafe’ for a year as it was time for me to move on. Shailesh took over my position in this well-tuned artisan bakery and patisserie. I have learned a lot and hope that others learned from me as well. It was an absolute pleasure being involved and part of the Harvest family.