L’épi Artisan Bakery opened its doors in Chisholm in late 2022, and the locals are already raving. It’s become a favourite spot to pick up a loaf of sourdough bread, flaky pastries and gorgeous cakes.
Ignace Diompy trained as a baker in France where he says the work culture was pretty intense. The first few years of his apprenticeship were a challenge, but he became passionate about his craft as he progressed further.
“In France, there is a lot of pressure when you’re young. But having more time and confidence … I started to like the challenge of doing new products,” Ignace told Region.
Ignace’s career also took him to Switzerland, which has different styles and techniques from Parisian bakeries. His move to Australia was initially part of a broader plan to learn English and eventually open a franchise of the French bakery in Dubai. But Canberra worked its magic on Ignace and his family and they decided to settle here instead.
“The lifestyle [in Canberra] for family and community is pretty great,” Ignace said.
“Every suburb has a strong community behaviour where they help each other, and they communicate about new places, which reminds me a bit of France and the villages.”
The fit-out at L’épi is simple, with a few tables and chairs inside and out to enjoy a coffee with a freshly made pastry. A large shelf on one wall is stocked with specialty European pantry items like olive oils, preserves, anchovies and pasta.
There’s a good mix of sourdough loaves, but if you’d like a taste of Ignace’s European training, you can’t go past the pain d’épi, a baguette cut like an ear of wheat (appropriate considering l’épi translates as ‘ear of wheat’ in French!) Or try a mauricette, a pretzel-brioche hybrid from the Alsace region of France. For a big event, get the show-stopping wheel of sourdough buns.
“There’s a big focus on the baguette because we do it in the French way, a really traditional way… we leave the dough to rest for 24 hours before shaping and finishing it in the oven,” Ignace explained.
The boysenberry danishes are sheer perfection, and the cake display has a good mix of Aussie favourites like lamingtons and berry cheesecake, as well as some classic French treats like Opera Cake – a layered almond and coffee sponge, and the cream-filled choux pastry rings called Paris Brest.
L’épi is just one part of the business run by owner and head baker Ignace Diompy who bought Bakehouse in Kambah and Crust in Fyshwick. The shops get fresh deliveries from Ignace’s central bakery in Hume, which is just five minutes from L’épi. Over time, Bakehouse will transition to the L’épi brand and Ignace teased some ideas about wood-fired breads and more specialty cakes being made at the Crust location.
For now, join the queue of Chisholm locals who are thrilled to have a great French bakery in their neighbourhood. As one was overheard saying: “The best pastry shop in the ACT. It’s magic! Magic!”
L’épi Artisan Bakery is located at 60/62 Halley St, Chisholm. They are open Wednesday to Sunday from 7 am to 5.30 pm.