Passion

Interview with Australian Pastry Chef Christopher Thé

7 minutes

Christopher Thé x Unox Casa
Sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by the inviting scent of freshly brewed coffee, we find ourselves in the company of Christopher Thé, the renowned Australian pastry chef. With a cup in hand, Chris takes us on a journey through time, recounting his initial foray into the culinary world, revealing the roots of his passion for food, and emotionally recalling the first time he utilised professional Unox ovens in his pastry shop. With a sense of pride, he shares his decision to incorporate Unox's innovative technology into his home kitchen, opting for Model 1 by Unox Casa.

Index

Past, Present, and Future
Chris, could you share with us the moment you realised that cooking would be your path?
For you, then, Hearthe represents a return to the essence of homemade preparations. What emotions or sensations do you hope people experience when they taste your artisanal creations?
You have been a loyal customer of Unox professional ovens for your pastry shop, and a few months ago, you became the proud owner of an Unox Casa home oven. How has your home life changed since installing Model 1?
We have to ask: where did the inspiration to create your famous and Instagrammable Strawberry Watermelon Cake come from? Have you ever tried to replicate it at home with Model 1?
Do you believe that Model 1 can be considered an innovative pioneer of professional home appliances? What do you envision the future of home cooking to be like?

Past, Present, and Future

Christopher Thé, hailing from Sydney, one of Australia's most innovative cities, received professional training in esteemed local restaurants like Bel Mondo, Claude's, and Quay. In 2008, he launched the renowned Black Star Pastry, swiftly becoming a culinary icon in Sydney with the creation of Australia’s most "instagrammable" cake. The overwhelming success led to the expansion of Black Star Pastry with three new stores and two temporary ones in Melbourne and Singapore.

In 2018, he sold Black Star Pastry to embark on the launch of the new Hearthe pastry shop in 2023. The name itself embodies his culinary philosophy, uniting Heart, Art, Earth, and his surname. Here, Christopher revisits his culinary roots, offering authentic cuisine stemming from the heart and employing traditional preservation techniques to ensure longevity in Australia's hot climate. Paying homage to local and indigenous ingredients, Hearthe celebrates Australia's culinary identity while projecting it into the future.

Christopher's cuisine is characterised by a focus on flavour and craftsmanship, coupled with innovative creativity. His dishes, simple yet elegant, draw inspiration from the beauty of Australian nature. With each creation, Christopher strives to deliver not only premium ingredients but also world-class gastronomic experiences for his patrons, solidifying his status as one of Australia's premier pastry chefs.

A loyal user of professional Unox ovens in his establishments, Christopher decided in 2023 to bring the innovation of Unox Casa into his Sydney home, installing SuperOven Model 1 in his kitchen. Since then, the professional performance of this smart oven has supported him in pastry preparations, transforming his kitchen into a creative laboratory infused with the warmth of home.

Today, we are privileged to share his invaluable insights into how having a professional appliance at home can revolutionise family and domestic life, opening up new culinary horizons with resounding success.

Chris, could you share with us the moment you realised that cooking would be your path?

I began my culinary journey as a dishwasher, and that's when I became enamored with the atmosphere of the kitchen. I adored the adrenaline rush I felt when customers arrived: as they settled in, the atmosphere became charged with electricity, animating the space with contagious energy. Throughout my career, I've had the privilege of working in upscale restaurants, where I could experiment with the finest ingredients and tools. Eventually, I wanted to channel what I had learned over the years into opening my first pastry shop, Black Star Pastry, where we crafted the renowned Strawberry Watermelon Cake. Although I sold the business shortly before the pandemic, I quickly realised that it was thanks to that small shop that I became who I am today. This realisation inspired me to open a second pastry shop, Hearthe. Here, I've come to appreciate the idea of cooking from the heart even more, returning to the concept of artisanal pastry making, where the power of hands kneading dough brings forth new delights each day.
Christopher Thé's new pastry shop Hearthe
Christopher Thé's new pastry shop Hearthe

For you, then, Hearthe represents a return to the essence of homemade preparations. What emotions or sensations do you hope people experience when they taste your artisanal creations?

I often share a phrase with my young chefs: "Sometimes, you taste something so delicious that your brain freezes for a few seconds." It's a rare sensory experience linked to food, one that only occurs a few times in life. For some, it might happen with a particular ingredient, like coffee or whiskey. For me, it's when I bite into a perfectly cooked croissant. It's that moment when you taste something so exquisite that the world seems to pause, and you feel like time slows down around you. That's my goal: to evoke this sense of ecstasy in as many people as possible through my creations.

You have been a loyal customer of Unox professional ovens for your pastry shop, and a few months ago, you became the proud owner of an Unox Casa home oven. How has your home life changed since installing Model 1?

In my pastry shop, I've mastered the use of Unox professional ovens, understanding every control and making precise adjustments to temperature and humidity. When you invest in an oven like this, it's not just about the appliance itself, but also about its "brain": the programmes, reliability, and precision it offers. With the assurance that every cooking process will yield consistent results, the automatic programmes have been a game-changer. Selecting a dish on the display, such as roast lamb or croissants, automatically configures the cooking parameters for a perfect outcome every time.

Model 1 operates just like its professional counterpart. Its installation at home has brought incredible benefits. Thanks to the automatic cooking programmes, every member of my family can now cook like a professional chef, effortlessly and intuitively. With four kids, my two daughters have developed a passion for baking. Since we installed Model 1, they've been continuously baking cookies, macarons, and muffins. Witnessing the oven's ease of use for anyone has been truly remarkable.

Model 1 has become the heart of our home, the focal point of the kitchen. As a result, it has allowed us to eliminate all other appliances. We no longer cook eggs and bacon in a pan; it feels almost "primitive" with the mess of splattering fat, smoke, and lingering odours. Instead, my wife utilises Model 1's "bacon" programme, cracking the eggs directly into the provided pan and heating the bread in the oven. In just minutes, breakfast for our large family—there are six of us—is ready.

Beyond its unmatched performance, Model 1 enables us to savour the precious time we spend together. Our lives are incredibly busy, often keeping us away from home. However, since we acquired this smart oven, we can simply pop a tray of frozen lasagna inside and programme the oven to have them piping hot upon our return. This allows us to gather around the table immediately and enjoy our family meal together, cherishing these special moments.

Christopher Thé and his wife preparing dinner with Model 1
Chrstiopher Thé and his family enjoy a revolutionalised kitchen life with Model 1
Christopher Thé preparing pizza with his children
Chrstiopher Thé and his family enjoy a revolutionalised kitchen life with Model 1
Christopher Thé's Kitchen in Sydney, Australia
Chrstiopher Thé and his family enjoy a revolutionalised kitchen life with Model 1

We have to ask: where did the inspiration to create your famous and Instagrammable Strawberry Watermelon Cake come from? Have you ever tried to replicate it at home with Model 1?

The idea for the Strawberry Watermelon Cake originated as a wedding cake for some friends, aiming to capture pure romanticism. We crafted a cake comprising almond sponge cake, rose petal cream, and a watermelon insert marinated in rose water. Garnished with fresh fruit, rose petals, and pistachio flakes, it emanated an intense harmony of fresh and floral aromas. After acquiring the Unox professional oven at Black Star, we were able to scale up its production, turning it into our best-selling item.

Since opening Hearthe, we've introduced many different cakes. However, my children always request the Strawberry Watermelon Cake for their birthdays. It's truly a fantastic creation. Nonetheless, we always prepare it together at home, and thanks to the precision and technology of Model 1, the result mirrors that achieved in the pastry laboratory: perfection.

Christopher Thé's renowed Strawberry Watermelon Cake
Australia's most "instagrammable" cake: Christopher Thé's Strawberry Watermelon Cake

Do you believe that Model 1 can be considered an innovative pioneer of professional home appliances? What do you envision the future of home cooking to be like?

In my view, the kitchen of the future will encourage people to step outside their comfort zones. By providing top-notch appliances, even those unfamiliar with professional cooking can delve into culinary exploration. Accessibility will define the future, and I witness it daily through Model 1: my wife, who was never an avid cook, now confidently prepares various roasts and braised meats, thanks to the support of a professional home oven. Dishes that once seemed beyond her capabilities are now within reach.

The average person looking at this oven cannot yet understand the extent of the results that can be achieved. The performance, the equipment, and the artificial intelligence that underlies it: everything is precise to the millimeter, offering an unparalleled cooking experience. Among the various accessories, the oven is equipped with an integrated smoker to add that extra touch to dishes. Additionally, it features an integrated hood right above the cooking chamber, which swiftly removes fumes and steam as soon as the door is opened. Perhaps most surprising is the automatic washing function, activated directly from the display.

Model 1 has become the cornerstone of our kitchen, as it is the only appliance we use today — except for a pot to boil water. It can feed my entire family every day, offering us tasty, balanced dishes enjoyed in the comfort of our home. All thanks to a simple click on the screen.


 

Christopher Thé's testimony provides a privileged glimpse into the transformation that an appliance of this caliber can bring to the daily life of a family. Through his experience with Model 1, the chef not only translated the excellence of professional pastry making into his own kitchen but also opened up new culinary horizons for himself and his loved ones. The extreme ease of use, the multitude of cooking options, and the artificial intelligence behind its performance make Model 1 a true pioneer in revolutionising modern cooking towards a future that is both accessible and cutting-edge.

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