July 28, 2017
He's a Melbourne chef with a Nick Cave-cool about him, she grew up in Cambridge serving lunch to Stephen Hawking – together they've created one of the Barossa's most famous exports… and it's not wine.
Carême Pastry, founded in 2005, is the brainchild of two hospitality-gurus turned food entrepreneurs, Will and Claire Wood – and it has evolved over the past 10 years from the stalls of the Barossa Farmers Market to the freezer section of every independent supermarket and providore worth its salt.
As friends of Yalumba, Will and Claire will be joining us for this year's Barossa Gourmet Weekend on Saturday 2 September, co-creating another stellar Yalumba cooking school.
But before you take to the pastry bench, we thought you might want to know a thing or two about the cook and chef behind the Barossa's most luxurious pastry brand.
While making his famous sourdough – which he'll be sharing with his apprentices at our cooking school – Will tells us about his own apprentice years in fine dining and where his inspiration for the perfect puff pastry came from.
"I started out as a trainee chef in Melbourne working at Mietta's in the city then onto Paul Bocuse under the tutelage of Phillipe Mouchel," Will said.
"Bocuse is famous for his Truffle Soup, which has a lid made of fine puff pastry – that's really how I perfected my recipe."
Will then moved to London where he spent the next four years developing his career in fine dining, before setting off to back-pack around Europe – he eventually ended up in Cambridge where he met Claire.
Like all good home cooks, she's sipping on a glass of The Signature , while making a slow cooked lamb shoulder pie and telling us her story.
"I was born in Cambridge and grew up there. It's something I took for granted really, that I lived among all of that history – I worked as a waitress and served lunch to Stephen Hawking and the cast of the Footlights every week," Claire said.
"Will and I met when we were both working at Michelle's Brasserie in Cambridge and then decided to move to Australia in 1996, where we ran The Marine Café, on the Great Ocean Road together."
After a stint in Brisbane, Claire's desire to study wine marketing led the two to Adelaide, where Will got a gig working with Cheong Liew and then Maggie Beer, before the couple eventually settled in the Barossa and had their two daughters, Florence and Elena.
"I was working in the wine industry when we started Carême, but ended up leaving wine to work on our business full time – we started selling pastries to local restaurants and the Barossa Farmers Market and things just grew from there," Claire said.
"The business was Will's idea and then I came on board to help with the brand and marketing.
"I wanted Carême Pastry to be something everyone could use, so I started writing recipes for every day cooks and marketing it to supermarkets, I suppose you could say, ‘the rest is history'."
But while the pastry is designed for home cooking, the name is a nod to Will's fine dining training.
"Marie-Antoine Carême was a 17th century French chef and an early advocate of the elaborate French style of cooking known as high-art," Will said.
"While we want our pastry to be approachable, we also want people to feel like they can use it for their own high-art, at home.
"It's an elaborate name for something that's really simple to use and create beautiful meals with. But truth be told, I wanted to call it Puff Willy, but Claire wasn't so sure."
If you'd like to meet Claire and Will, and learn more about cooking with puff pastry, book your tickets here to join us for the Yalumba cooking school at this year's Barossa Gourmet Weekend.