"You'll come to realise it's a bit of a cult," says Christopher Thé a.k.a "Mr Black Star" as his famous patisserie pops-up in Melbourne for the next six months. Black Star Pastry has found safe harbour behind Cafe Italia just off Carlton's Lygon Street. They've transformed a space that, until a week ago and before 14 trips to Bunnings, was stacked up to head height in soy sauce.
Chris's Executive Chef Sam Yeo takes the helm of Black Star Melbourne, which offers a more focussed selection of the original rock star baked goods that Sydney experiences. They're famous for their lamb shank pies, pistachio lemon zen cake, sublime frangipane tarts and gold medal winning croissants (watch out Lune). But it's their signature Strawberry Watermelon Cake that has earned them superstar status.
A serious contender for the most Instagrammed cake on the planet; the confection features strata of almond dacquoise, rose-scented cream and fresh watermelon that has been macerated in rosewater for hours, all strewn with strawberries, pistachios and dried rose petals—and it takes a whole day to make.
The idea for the Strawberry Watermelon Cake came from a wedding cake Sam was commissioned to make for a friend, influenced by Middle Eastern flavours like rose and orange waters. "The thing that makes it work is you can almost taste the life in it. We have to be really careful about the freshness of it. If it gets to be a day old it loses that light, that magic and we won't sell it".
Black Star's other sweet and savoury offerings traverse Japanese, French and Indigenous Australian (think pies with bush spices, kangaroo pies, W.A. mussels and samphire) flavours. They'll also be deconstructing some of their recipes and giving them an Italian twist as they conjure up a dessert menu for their neighbours at Cafe Italia. Some Melbourne exclusives have been hinted at.
As well as The Little Marionette's coffee, Black Star are joined by N2's liquid nitrogen gelato and Hoi Pinoy barbecuing glazed Filipino skewers on weekends, as well as a yet-to-be-revealed secret guest in the weeks to come. Of their new Carlton locale Chris says, "I grew up in an Italian suburb, so I feel very much at home here. We hope we don't embarrass ourselves because we're Sydneysiders. We promise not to break out the active-wear too soon".
However, we suspect stretchy pants might be an essential wardrobe choice when visiting Black Star Melbourne.
Where: 56-66 University Street, Carlton
When: Opens February 20
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Image credit: Black Star Pastry