It’s common for a restaurant in France to incorporate a bakery and a retail space with a revolving assortment of goods. From a coffee and a baguette in the morning to a glass of wine in the evening, a single venue can become a destination for patrons.
New hospitality group Etymon Projects has taken this idea and channelled it into the launch of their debut venue Loulou, which opened in Sydney’s Lavender Bay late last year.
Culinary Director Sebastien Lutaud speaks to Hospitality about crafting unique
takeaway offerings, providing a multifaceted experience for local diners and being a part of a venue that’s the first of its kind in the area.
The idea for Loulou came about in March 2020 when Etymon Projects was scoping out locations for their first venue. A generous space in Lavender Bay soon caught their attention.
“We didn’t know the concept at the time, but we wanted to do something [that operated] all day,” says Sebastien Lutaud. “There was a 170sqm shop next to it and we always [thought] of doing a bakery. French cuisine is something we are all passionate about (even the owner), so we said, ‘Let’s do a French bistro and a boulangerie’.”
The boulangerie, or bakery, paved the way for the addition of a traiteur and
a bistro, with all arms of the business coming together to offer a day-to-night
option for patrons. “Most bakeries in Sydney open early and then shut around
3:00pm, and we didn’t want that,” says Lutaud.
“We wanted people to still be able to get fresh bread when they finish work. Being French myself, I said, ‘Let’s just do a traiteur’, because you have a boulangerie, patisserie and a bakery in France. Sometimes it’s a shop where it is mixed all into one with a butcher and a traiteur with charcuterie.”
A boulangerie is not to be confused with a patisserie. “When you go to a boulangerie, you don’t expect to see patisserie or layered cakes and entremets,” says Lutaud.
Loulou customers can sample tarts, choux, puff pastry and dough-based goods along with a range of breads. “We wanted to do artisanal bread; everything is done on a levain (a sourdough starter). We are doing a classic baguette with yeast, but everything else including the croissants are done on levain.”
An assortment of traditional French breads are on offer and encompass unique
flavour combinations thanks to the use of sweet and dry starters.
“We have eight types of bread at the moment,” says Lutaud. “These include two baguettes, sesame and olive oil loaf, sourdough and a bâtard.”
Chef Brendon Woodward is heading up the boulangerie after stints at Chouquette
in Queensland and Bread Ahead Bakery in London. To ensure the kitchen puts out
fresh goods around the clock, Woodward and the team carry out multiple bakes
throughout the day until 5:00pm.
“We do four bakes a day as opposed to doing one big hit in the morning,” says Lutaud. “We do cycles in the boulangerie to make sure items are nice and fresh, so when you come in and get a croissant, it’s warm, crispy and hasn’t been sitting there for six hours.”
Ovens from German brand Miwe ensure bakers are working smarter, not
harder. The state-of-the-art equipment allows for remote automatic preheating and proving.
“We can program it so the ovens come on and are ready to go before a bake,” says Lutaud. “Same thing with the provers; we program what time we want them to
start proving the croissants so when we get here, they’re ready to bake straight away. Instead of getting the bakers to start at 2:00am, they can start at 4:45am.”
Quality is of the utmost importance at Loulou and is woven throughout each part of the business. Cyprien Picard is leading the traiteur after time at Victor Churchill, with ex- Guillaume chef Billy Hannigan running the bistro.
Loulou’s chef line up has upped the ante in the area, with the team differentiating
the venue from other businesses. “It’s not fine dining at all, but the standard is there from a bistro and takeaway perspective,” say Lutaud.
Keeping things in-house is a key perk of operating an all-in-one venue. At Loulou,
the traiteur and boulangerie complement each other while delivering a bespoke
offering. “Everything works together; the breads in the bistro come from the
bakery and the pâté en croute is from the traiteur,” says Lutaud. “If we serve the
pâté en croute with a great chutney, we jar it and sell it in the retail space; the
connection works really well.”