Tom Moore is not only a baker in whose shop, Knead Patisserie, you can get real crunchy butter croissants, but also somebody who wants to change things. This is what he proves when he says: “Enjoying good food is all about education. The taste of things comes when you are young”. When I called him to arrange an appointment, on the advice of one of his customers, he showed enthusiasm straight away. He is eager to share his philosophy of building a better knowledge about good food.
It is 10 o’clock as we sit at one of the garden tables in his quaint shop at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets in Canberra. This is almost the end of his day. Almost, I say, because he is also active during the daytime with other commitments linked with his concern about food education. As we chat, people come in and out continuously. My attention is drawn to the counter: ham and provolone roll, smoked turkey bagel, rustic rye loaf, and those golden and plump croissants, of course.
After his night hours, Tom Moore visits schools and gives pupils cooking classes, showing how to use local products, because he has also been a chef for 20 years… He was at the head of the much awarded “Sage” restaurant in Canberra and then “Grazing”, a farm-restaurant, where he, with his team, grew the vegetables and herbs used in the kitchen. For that also, he won awards, including one for his contribution to a more sustainable planet. Look at his Facebook page and you get the picture of the character: he sits in the meadow cuddling happy pigs.
Tom trained as a chef in the kitchen of the Hyatt, in the bakery section, with demanding French and Swiss chefs. Now, as a baker, his background gives him a particular sense of flavours. He waits for the fruit to be slightly overripe, as you do when making home-made jam, to add more sweetness and taste to his patisseries.
While the croissant is made from a basic recipe anyone can have access to, I wondered why it is so difficult to find proper crispy ones. “The secret is in the use of good products, like the butter, and the technique of course. For croissants, you alternate layers of dough and layers of butter that are folded together. It takes time. I have heard that some just throw already processed mixture into the kneading machine, and then add small bits of margarine, not butter. It is amazing what you can buy pre-mixed! Some of the bakers I hired had never used butter!”
Making things with proper care, this is what he shows both children and adults on the first Saturday of each month at the Farmer’s Market at EPIC in Canberra. With three other chefs he created a school to train cooking and baking apprentices. He has students from the age of 16 to 45 and their best students have also won awards. http://www.fourchefs.com.au
Knead Patisserie, Belconnen Market.