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K-Oui Pâtisserie – Sweet taste of France with a Korean twist

New Zealand Chef Peter Gordon is considered, world-wide, the father of fusion cuisine, a cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions and which the Oxford English Dictionary describes as “a style of cookery which blends ingredients and methods of preparation from different countries, regions, or ethnic groups”, and that is just what Eva Nivet and Hankyul Kim have created with their business K-Oui Pâtisserie.

K-Oui takes traditional French patisserie techniques and adds a twist of Korean flavour. From delicate mixed berry mousse on puff rice and white chocolate base to classic French bavarois infused with caramelised black sesame seeds.

This column comes with a warning, with treats like the small but intensely rich slice of classic opera cake with flavoursome Korean chili flakes infused into the 70% dark chocolate ganache and dusted on top, or a delicate and incredibly delicious yuzu and earl grey cheesecake these morsels of deliciousness are addictive!

While the combinations aren’t traditional in terms of French patisserie, they are a perfect fusion of flavours from two cultures. To find out what makes their creations so delicious I sat down with this talented couple last week to see if they would share some secrets with me.

Eva is originally from France and says they “strive to blend the rich traditions of French patisserie with the vibrant flavors of Korean cuisine, creating an entirely new and innovative experience for our customers.”

Eva started her working life in France training to be an accountant, but that didn’t really feel right as a long-term career. She has always had a passion for food so decided to take a year off and travel to explore the flavours of the world as well as experiencing other countries and cultures. She says, “I fell in love with the kitchen dynamic and creating food that makes people happy.”

When Eva arrived in New Zealand she worked at Hippopotamus Restaurant in the Museum Hotel, then at Wellington Sourdough bakery followed by a couple of other cafes as a baker.

After studying towards a career in administration in Korea Hankyul also didn’t think it was the right career for him, so he went to Australia “where I started working in the kitchen. I spent two years there before moving to Wellington to study at Le Cordon Bleu.”

He went on to refine his culinary skills in kitchens across Wellington, working in places like Shepherd Restaurant where he was part of the original staff, Charley Noble, Hippopotamus, La Cloche and Koji Restaurant where he was once again an original staff member, he started as the sous chef and then became their head chef.

Some of the sweet treats produced by K-Oui Patisserie

It was at Hippopotamus restaurant that Eva and Hankyul discovered a shared passion for the art of pastry-making, as well as each other of course.

Before covid the couple had decided to move to France, but when covid hit they both got tourist visas and travelled around New Zealand in a campervan. Eva says “we love the outdoors and New Zealand is such a beautiful country we just loved exploring it.”

When they got New Zealand residency they decided to open their own business, “we decided on the South Island, there’s more nature, lots of walks and we love the outdoors. Nelson has everything we wanted, with national parks, the sea, rivers and lakes and we just loved the feeling of the region, so we moved here to start our business.”

With extensive training and experience in pastry, including being the head pastry chef at Hippopotamus, experience in French cuisine and at Koji, a modern Asian restaurant, Hankyul had the skills to start a business with patisserie as a focus. He told me “I never learned Asian cuisine, I went to Koji to learn about Asian flavours and how to create Asian desserts.”

The result is French patisserie with a Korean twist. Eva says “Hankyul knows French patisserie techniques and I come up with flavour combination ideas, so together our creations come to life. We both work in the kitchen making everything by hand from scratch. We’re currently working on how we can use this season’s fresh mandarins and the rhubarb we grow at home.”

Like most successful food businesses they are trying to be as sustainable as possible using local seasonal ingredients and compostable packaging. Hankyul says “there are some fantastic products here, and we use them as often as we can. We get our cream cheese from Little River, cream from Oakland’s and fruits from the market. What is in season is what inspires us to try new flavour combinations.”

The couple blend blend the rich traditions of French patisserie with the vibrant flavors of Korean cuisine

At K-Oui Eva and Hankyul are lovingly crafting the most delicate, delicious treats and while they can also cater corporate and private events, making a perfect dessert for each occasion, their main sales are at the Nelson Saturday and Motueka Sunday markets. I thoroughly recommend the small degustation (tasting) box of four perfectly formed petits fours.

You can follow them on Facebook at K-oui Patisserie, Instagram at k.oui.patisserie or just email them if you need a delicious dessert for your next special occasion.

Published in the Nelson Mail 08-05-2024

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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