French-born baker Dominique Colombie opened his first patisserie in Auckland in 1986. Since then Paneton has set the standard for French pastries in New Zealand and has just opened a new premises in the heart of Newmarket
Paneton’s French baking
Step through the doors of Paneton’s Teed Street cafe and you’ll be greeted with the welcoming aroma of warm, buttery pastries and freshly made Supreme coffee. The glass-fronted cabinets are full of scrumptious French delights: filled ficelle and ciabatta sandwiches, freshly baked mini danishes and Paneton’s iconic croissants. The pale mint walls, gold-rimmed marble tables and polished concrete floors transport you from the streets of Auckland straight into a Parisian patisserie. C’est magnifique!
The Newmarket cafe and bakery has been open for less than a year but is already a focal point of the Teed Street scene with its designer boutiques and popular brunch spots. The cafe is a showcase for the beautiful bread and pastries that Paneton is famous for, with fresh-baked bread from the new St Johns bakery site in Farmhouse Lane delivered daily before the sun rises. In addition, the Teed Street cafe boasts a full range of frozen pastry and ready-to-cook pastries, as well as whole cakes for special occasions.
Since opening its doors towards the end of 2016, the Teed Street cafe has developed a loyal following of regulars including customers who have supported Paneton for the 30 years they’ve been in business. It was just 100 metres from here, on Khyber Pass, that baker Dominique Colombie and his wife, Celia, opened their first cafe bakery, La Tarterie, in 1986 after moving to New Zealand from France. They’d packed their belongings – including a small, specialised oven – into a container and set off for Auckland to set up shop and serve their sweet and savoury French pastries. “We couldn’t afford the main street, so we thought, ‘If it’s good, people might come,’” says Dominique. “And they did!”
The Newmarket cafe and bakery has been open for less than a year but is already a focal point of the Teed Street scene
Dominique grew up working in his parents’ patisserie in a small village in the South of France. It was a busy little place and from the age of 7 he would run the shop till with his four brothers. “When people wanted a fine cake, they would come to my parents,” says Dominique, who continued to work alongside his father and learn the craft of traditional French baking.
When he was old enough, Dominique moved to Paris to take short courses at the Lenôtre culinary school. “From my father I learnt all the basics, but he was working in an old-fashioned way. In Paris, I learnt new technology: freezing, pasteurising and things like that.” It was in Paris that he met Celia, who was working at the OECD, before training at the Cordon Bleu and working in pastry shops around the city. “We decided we wanted to do something together with food,” he says. And the rest is history.
Paneton now has two retail locations in Auckland – Newmarket and Halsey Street – but distributes frozen and par-baked products throughout New Zealand. It was Dominique who pioneered the frozen retail pastry business in New Zealand back in 2010. Not only does this innovation allow Kiwis to easily whip up patisserie-worthy croissants at home, but cafes and hotels all around the country can now serve traditional French pastries and breads without having to make them from scratch. The croissant recipe is still based on the original Paneton method but has been adjusted for blast freezing. “We do big numbers, but it’s the same quality,” says Dominique, who can often be found in Teed Street chatting to the regulars, scooter parked out front.
Paneton has recently launched its chocolate pastry, which indeed tastes just as good as it sounds. In fact, the Newmarket cafe now regularly whips up a decadent chocolate tart made with Paneton chocolate pastry and served with a dollop of whipped cream on the side. As if
by…• there wasn’t already reason enough to stop
Daily bread Paneton’s cafes in Newmarket and Halsey Street (in central Auckland) are open Monday to Saturday, and both locations can provide catering for training sessions, board meetings, morning teas and lunches, and private functions. Paneton also sells par-baked bread and frozen croissants and pastry to retailers and cafes around New Zealand, and new product development is a key focus.
Bake off Dominique (pictured opposite) trained with his pastry chef father in the South of France and at Lenôtre in Paris. Some 50 staff work across the business, in the two cafes and at the bakery in St Johns.