If you’ve been to the Barossa Farmers Market recently, you may have recognised a familiar face and most definitely been tempted by the new mouth-watering addition to our popular Saturday institution.
Cheryse Zagler knew exactly what she wanted to do from an early age.
She left school at 16 and enrolled in Barossa TAFE, intending to become a chef. That was until a casual visit to the Barossa Farmers Market led her to the Carême Pastry stall, which at the time, was a new addition to the market.
Cheryse was inspired.
After exchanging emails with Carême Pastry, Cheryse pulled out of TAFE to embark on a four-year pastry apprenticeship.
“Preparing for the market when I was at Carême was my favourite part of my week,” Cheryse explains.
“We would have a couple of big days preparing as much as we could and then an early start Saturday filling, decorating, and baking. It’s what it’s all about really. The art.”
Cheryse spent two and half years of her four-year apprenticeship with Carême Pastry before transferring to Mulots, a French Patisserie in Adelaide. She completed her apprenticeship over the 18 months that followed and then moved to Melbourne, chasing new opportunities.
“My apprenticeship really shaped my love for patisserie and is a huge part of who I am today,” Cheryse shares. “Both Carême and Mulots taught me the fundamentals of French patisserie. There are no short cuts.”
Cheryse admits to feeling a little overconfident after completing her apprenticeship but upon arriving to Melbourne, she became quite overwhelmed.
“I got to Melbourne, and I had no idea what I was doing!” Cheryse chuckles.
Cheryse had fun and learnt a lot working for Burch and Purchese patisserie for the first six months in Melbourne, before moving onto a different experience as a restaurant pastry chef at Hare & Grace.
“That’s where I fell in love with plated desserts,” Cheryse explains. “And where a lot of my restaurant-based desserts came into my patisserie and cakes.”
Cheryse worked her way around Melbourne patisseries for a few more years, until the arrival of her first niece lured her back to South Australia.
After working at a number of cafés and restaurants, Cheryse became the Pastry Chef at Magill Estate, before realising the dream of running her own business, Leabrook Bakehouse and Patisserie.
Four years later, Cheryse returned to the Barossa Valley and began a new creative journey as pasty chef for Greenock’s, El Estanco.
Now, as happy as ever, with a young daughter, partner and two older boys, Cheryse has decided to step away from other businesses to prioritise family and create her own brand, Cheryse Zagler Cake & Pastry Design.
“They (our kids) need us,” Cheryse explains. “And now I need to make decisions that are based around them.”
The decision has seen Cheryse return to The Barossa Farmers Market, showcasing a display of mouth-watering desserts every Saturday morning, that combine textures and flavours of restaurant-quality creations, in the form of beautiful desserts.
“I love cakes and desserts with a savoury palate,” Cheryse explains. “I create desserts that have different layers and a balance of flavours. I want customers to know what they are tasting.”
In recent weeks, Cheryse has offered temptations like the lemon meringue eclairs, made from choux pastry, with a sable butter biscuit, filled with fresh lemon cream and toasted marshmallow on top, and the dulcey tart, made with a burnt butter and a golden syrup Anzac biscuit, with different layers of salted caramel, mascarpone cream and 72 per cent dark couverture chocolate.
“The market only happened in the last few weeks and it’s great,” Cheryse explains. “I can have the kids there with me, I can have my partner there, and focus on what I want to do and what I want to create.”
Cheryse intends to change the menu weekly, though gauge customer feedback to hopefully establish a select number of favourites.
The menu will also change seasonally, as almost all the ingredients are sourced locally and the majority from the market.
“We have such beautiful produce at the market,” Cheryse says. “I use the free-range eggs, cream, milk and honey. Most of the ingredients are SA produce, except the chocolate, which comes from France.
“Everything I make is made from scratch, real ingredients including real butter. It’s the most important thing, to start with quality ingredients to make something truly wonderful.”
Besides preparing for the market, Cheryse remains busy during her weeks specialising in incredible Swiss meringue butter cream and ganache wedding, engagement, and other special occasion cakes.
She has also been drying her own flowers for a few years, which are used for cake decorating.
“Visually the cake side of the business is a huge part of who I am,” Cheryse shares. “But they’re not just cakes, I want them to be unique works of art.”
Cheryse’s cakes can be ordered and sampled from the Farmer’s Market.
“What’s important is giving back to everybody, creating and getting to share my passion and love of sweet treats with the community,” Cheryse says.