In the kitchen with Auckland pastry whizz Talita Setyady.
Aucklander Talita Setyady recently returned home for a short visit after studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Over the weekend she hosted a small get together at her Eastern Beach home and invited Jeremy Olds along to taste her treats.
There’s something quite unnerving about having the display window of a French patisserie laid out in front of you for the taking. Overcome by the simultaneous desire to marvel and ravage, never had “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” rung more true.
The dining table of Talita Setyady’s Eastern Beach home was brimming with perfectly-presented food: a lemon tart and French apple tart, freshly baked bread, savory pastries replete with caramelized onions and Portobello mushrooms and, the star of the evening, a tray of lavender, jasmine and vanilla macarons. Crisp, smooth meringue shells that cracked at the slightest touch of tooth, giving way to the creamy-cloud texture of the ganache, the dainty delight dissipated before I could begin contemplating how sublime they were.
“Diabetes, kicking in!” sighed one guest, having attempted to sample a bit of everything. I knew how she felt. By that stage I had inhaled countless macarons and was feeling that perhaps I had eaten too many of what is a category A ‘sometimes’ food.
However, I let it slide. After all, this definitely qualified as a ‘sometimes’ occasion. Talita was back on home turf for just three weeks having completed her Grand Diplôme at the world’s premier culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, in Paris, where she came top of her patisserie class. Soon she’ll be returning to Paris to take up an internship at the five-star Fouquet’s Barriers hotel on the Champs-Élysées.
The following morning, the smell of freshly baked pastry wafted through her home, as guests were greeted by plain and almond croissants, pains au chocolat and pains aux raisins – all made from scratch. The croissants had a flaky outside and a warm, buttery interior; the pains au chocolat oozed dark chocolate.
Talita draws inspiration for her culinary creations from her musical background – she holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of Auckland (you may recognise her as the double-bass wielding virtuoso of the charming all-girl trio Teacups). “It’s kind of like playing jazz in a way”, she says of cooking. “You have sheet music but you reharmonise it and reinterpret it in your own way.
“Each cake is like a new song”.