La Renaissance patisserie was founded in 1974 by Pierre and Sally Charkos. Paris-trained as a chef and pâtissier, Pierre had a dedication to his profession which never waned. Insisting on only using the best quality ingredients, and incredible pastries were produced in-house daily to a high standard. Originally situated in a small shopfront in East Roseville on Sydney’s North Shore, they moved the patisserie (affectionately known in-house as “La Ren”) to The Rocks on Bastille Day in 1992.
Our building here in The Rocks was built in 1842 by Michael Gannon, an ex-highway robber from Ireland, who ran a business offering carpentry, real estate, auctioneer and undertaking services. The courtyard, with its backdrop of Sydney skyscrapers, still shows traces of his workshop and the unique history.
Pierre sadly passed away in 2005, but his presence is still felt at La Renaissance, apparent in the incredible pastries produced daily to the highest standard and a small plaque in our courtyard. Now a local landmark within The Rocks, La Ren continues to be a mecca for true French pastries, and Sally is delighted to continue this tradition of French quality with co-owner and head pastry chef Jean-Michel Raynaud.
French-trained as well, Jean-Michel has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and haute patisseries / chocolateries alike across France and won multiple gold medals in cake decorating and sugar work. With the release in 2015 of his first cookbook The French Baker, he continues to cement his position here in Australia as one of the leading pastry chefs, both in his teaching of staff, classes to the public and also within the industry as a consultant.
La Renaissance, with Jean Michel at the helm, has now been admitted to Relais Desserts, an organisation which recognises the best in the profession of French patisserie. Not only are they the first patisserie in Australia to be invited to join, they are the first in the southern hemisphere – a true achievement and culmination of 40 years of dedication to the art of French patisserie.