Zonts Bakehouse started life in 2020 as an online-only bakery, operating out of a shared kitchen. The inevitable demand for its innovative and Instagrammable products saw Zonts move into its current Northbridge shop. It’s now one of Perth’s best-known patisseries and recently celebrated its second birthday in the space.
“We ended up in this location towards the end of James Street because we couldn’t afford Mount Lawley or the CBD,” says owner Lionel Chong. “There was no foot traffic, but we still wanted to take the risk because we relied so much on social media.”
A mechanical engineer by trade, Lionel was originally a partner in the business but is now its sole owner and leads pastry-duties in the kitchen full-time.
“It’s like my previous career in the construction field. The principles are the same; you take raw materials, transform them and add value to them,” he explains. “You take cement, sand and water to build a house. With baking, you take flour, sugar, butter and yeast to make a product like a croissant.”
Zonts’ most popular croissants are the traditional pistachio and almond varieties, however there’s always strong demand for the monthly specials. January’s specials were a Turkish delight croissant, a yoghurt cheesecake croissant and the hugely requested Biscoff custard croissant wheel.
“We always try to make a point of difference and do something that’s more Innovative than others,” says Lionel. “We’ve always tried to make something unique. We take a basic idea and turn it into something with the “wow” factor.”
Long-term customers will no doubt be excited by the promised return of laksa croissants this winter. As a confirmed ham-and-cheese lover, I find the savoury options hard to resist.
I was honoured to be asked by Lionel to collaborate with him on a croissant for February’s special. Given my English heritage, and love for anything citrus, we decided to do a spin on choc orange. The final result is a croissant filled with marmalade-jam and an orange custard spiced with cardamom, star anise and cinnamon. There’s some dark chocolate for texture, with dried oranges and a glaze of the marmalade-jam on top.
My immediate thought when trying this was a childhood memory of marmalade on toast with a bit too much butter. As someone who doesn’t have much family food history, this was a rare moment.
Zonts Bakehouse is open seven days from 6:30am at 2 / 228 James Street, Northbridge. A new Zonts outlet is expected to open south of the river in the last quarter of 2024.
All images: Morsels