26/05/2011 - 00:00

No shortage of ambition for this Adonis

26/05/2011 - 00:00


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THE story of Rochelle Adonis and her fledgling food brand illustrates the transformative power adversity can have on a growing business.

THE story of Rochelle Adonis and her fledgling food brand illustrates the transformative power adversity can have on a growing business.

Best known for her exquisite high teas served at the long marble dining table of her light-filled, inner-city store in Perth, Ms Adonis’ journey had its origins in a far darker space.

Grappling with a marriage breakdown and the possibility of losing her home and workplace, Ms Adonis had to take action to protect the business she had built from her kitchen bench.

A shopfront on Brisbane Street had caught her eye, and with demand for her nougat and cakes steadily growing, she took a leap of faith and signed a lease.

It was an intuitive decision that fundamentally shifted the business from a wholesale operation to a retail business with a small but sought-after line of packaged foods.

Without a plan, any advice or financial backers, Ms Adonis moved her pastry operation into the Brisbane Street premises and set up a kitchen with the idea of running her wholesale business from the premises, with a very small cake counter at the front of the store.

But the public had other ideas and it quickly became obvious that Ms Adonis had ‘accidentally’ created a pastry sensation.

Without any marketing or advertising, the high teas in the Brisbane Street dining room quickly became a bigger part of the business than her wholesale cakes and pastries.

“It has been completely organic, it has gone against all the traditional business models; I didn’t do a feasibility study, I didn’t even do a business plan,” Ms Adonis said.

“At the end of the day I’m a pastry chef who became a business woman.”

The nougat has proved so popular, Ms Adonis has been negotiating with a national distributor; and she is seeking a manufacturer to produce it under contract, along with her range of ice-cream.

She plans to sell her packaged food into the international market just as soon as she can put the distribution channels in place.

It’s no surprise Ms Adonis’ vision for her food business stretches beyond Perth. She had already travelled half way around the world before she was 10.

Born in Montreal, Ms Adonis moved to Sydney when she was just nine.

Years later, she honed her pastry skills at some of Australia’s top restaurants, including Matt Moran’s ARIA. Her travels also took her to the internationally renowned Hotel Sacher in Vienna and a London cake salon where she crafted special occasion cakes for aristocracy and minor royalty.

Her marriage brought her to Western Australia in late 2000, where the limited fine dining scene motivated her to start making wedding cakes from home.

“Then I was given the nougat recipe from a friend in Sydney and I started making that as well from home,” Ms Adonis said.

While dealing with the pressures of a young family, she cooked the nougat at night and sold it by day to customers, including friend and highly respected Perth chef, Michael Forde.

And it was his request for a range of cakes for his Claremont cafe that laid the foundations for the burgeoning Rochelle Adonis food brand.

Building on the unexpected success of her Perth patisserie, Ms Adonis has ambitious plans to open similar stores in Melbourne, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo and the spiritual home of fine pastries, Paris.

The Rochelle Adonis brand is already starting to break into the mass market after Ms Adonis agreed to endorse a national brand of ice-cream, scheduled for release in early 2012.

The operation’s turnover has quadrupled in the past two years and Ms Adonis said she had secured a backer in Paris and her team was hungry for expansion.

“I know what I do can sit on the world stage,” Ms Adonis said.

“People know who we are, we have had international coverage in Gourmet Traveller, Vogue and Qantas Magazine.

“And it’s certainly not because I have done any marketing.”

Ms Adonis identifies legendary Australian providore Simon Johnson and his business as a likely model for the Rochelle Adonis business and brand.

“I keep coming back to the Simon Johnson model, he started in Pyrmont with one store then he opened another store in Sydney and then opened around the country,” Ms Adonis told WA Business News.

“He had his own branded product, he is synonymous with very high quality provisions, I want to be synonymous with very, very high quality sweet things.”



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