Roméo Baudouin is what some say is Australia's finest charcutier and during COVID-19 lockdown Sydney-siders have been treated to his French classics. Romeo has been busy delivering classic French tarts and pies across Sydney via his new business D'Roméo Traiteur. There's quiche Lorraine, a bouef bourguignonne pie or a range of apple tarts, salted caramel tarts and lemon meringue pies.
Roméo grew up in Nantes in France, a town in the North-West of France by the Loire River where as a teen he cooked desserts and loved playing soccer and his career path was to take him to school for fashion design. It was only after a call from his cousin that his life took a different turn. "He is a pork butcher (charcutier) and he asked me to come for summer work. I loved it. I spent 2 years with him." After working at Mirabelle in Harrods under Marco Pierre White, he was reluctant to return to France. He considered his moves and, "It was either Japan or Australia and the Australian visa came through first," says Romeo. He arrived in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics and he worked at Victor Churchill and Guillaume at Bennelong and also had his own business Romeo's Fine Foods before becoming the Chief Artisan Charctuier at Haverick's Meats.
During this second lockdown in 2021 his hours at Haverick's Meats were limited so he decided to start a plan that he had been mulling over since COVID's 2020 lockdown: to sell his classic French pastries delivered all over Sydney on weekends. People can DM him on his Instagram account to place orders and he is working on an ordering platform.
"The first weekend it was a pretty good response, the second one was big and this weekend was massive. I am very happy and I'm very overwhelmed," says Roméo. There are two savoury offerings: a bœuf à la Bourguignonne pie and quiche Lorraine and a choice of 4 desserts, all $40 each and serves 6 to 8. He has customers that order with him every week so he may replace one item with another to keep it interesting. This weekend they will have crème caramel and the quiche Lorraine will be replaced with a caramelised onion, herbs de Provence and goats cheese quiche.
Part of the reason for his success is his reasonable prices for quality product. "I know it's COVID the idea is not to charge crazy money. I want a good quality product where customers are not going to be disappointed," says Romeo. I ordered the quiche Lorraine and it's wonderful. You want to gently heat it to take the chill off it (130C for 10 minutes) and the texture of the quiche is wobbly and perfectly just-set.
The salted caramel tart with Callebaut chocolate strikes a perfect balance of salt, silky caramel and chocolate with a butter base. The sweet tarts are smaller than the savouries but still could easily feed 8.
As for post COVID plans, Romeo says an online with delivery may be a possibility. "Maybe I introduce some charcuterie on site, a small range. There's a market for that I know that. Sweets are good but people enjoy more sweets for the end of the week not on Monday or Tuesday night. Even some ready meals," he says.
"Still, I love design. Even during first lockdown I start to do painting at home. Now 3 weeks ago there was an art workshop and now it's a pastry workshop," says Romeo.
So tell me Dear Reader, what is your favourite French classic dessert or savoury?
This food was independently paid for.