Paris
Paris
14°
14°
Wed
11°
Thu
15°
Fri
16°
Sat
18°
Sun
13°
Mon
    • :
    • :
  • Mel
    Mel
    12°
    15°
    Wed
    17°
    Thu
    11°
    Fri
    10°
    Sat
    13°
    Sun
    12°
    Mon
    • :
    • :
  • Syd
    Syd
    17°
    19°
    Wed
    16°
    Thu
    15°
    Fri
    13°
    Sat
    12°
    Sun
    13°
    Mon
    • :
    • :
  • Food & Fun

    Melbourne Brunch in Paris

    By ANNABEL ROSS 20 October 2017

    It’s a stereotype, for sure, but one that’s founded in truth: many Parisians typically start their day with an espresso and a cigarette. “Maybe a croissant as well, if they’re really hungry,” says Di Keser.

    Hardware Société, the Montmartre cafe that Keser runs with her husband and business partner Will, is the antithesis of that spartan French breakfast tradition. A Paris outpost of the couple’s seven-year-old Melbourne business that sticks to their tried-and-true gourmet Australian brunch menu (with seasonal variations), it’s a highly Instagrammable formula that has seen hundreds of tourists and locals alike put down the pastries and embrace a very different kind of breakfast in Paris.

    About 40 per cent of Keser’s clientele is French, she says.The rest are tourists, mostly of the Australian and American variety and “after four days of croissants they do yearn for that flat white or scrambled eggs dish that they can’t get anywhere else,” she says.

    Keser and Will opened Hardware Société in April last year, having been regular visitors to Paris since buying property there in 2013. The 50-seater cafe sits in an unusually quiet pocket at the base of the tourist-ridden Sacre Coeur and subsequently doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, but word of mouth and some great reviews in the French press have kept the venue consistently busy since opening.

    Setting up shop in Paris was not without its challenges, the least of which was navigating the French language and legal system, says Keser.

    “In Australia, I can manage my business remotely and do everything myself, here I’m reliant on my accountant, that’s really frustrating,” she says.

    “Of course, the language is very formal too, which takes a bit of getting used to, particularly as a relaxed Melburnian – formerly a relaxed Melburnian!”

    It’s a prerequisite that their floor staff are bilingual, but Keser admits that she and Will have found it difficult to pick up French, especially while they’re still so heavily involved with their businesses back home. “I’m working across two different time zones, I simply haven’t had the brain space to learn a new language as well,” she says.

    But there are upsides to being monolingual, she’s discovered. “I adore that I can’t understand other people’s conversations, and I find it a real pain in the arse when I am seated next to an English-speaking person on the Metro or at a restaurant,” she says. “Ignorance is bliss!”

    The Kesers brought two of their Melbourne chefs, Jesse Keane and Carla Eyles, to Paris with them, and the rewards of growing their business together abroad has made all the blood, sweat and tears worth it, says Keser.

    “Just the other day we were sitting together saying, who would have thought seven years ago that one day we’d all be working together in Paris?”

    The more relaxed French approach to work has been another plus for the Kesers, whose Melbourne business is open seven days a week. “We love the way of life, everything starts later and finishes later, it’s probably the most noticeable difference for us,” says Keser. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the Montmartre cafe is closed, and they, like much of France, will cease trading for three weeks in August and enjoy a well-earned summer break.

    Some Parisians will never switch their coffee/cigarette/croissant ritual for the likes of a lobster benedict (the French customers tend to be curious rather than devout, like the expats craving good Australian coffee) but Keser said she never had any doubts about setting up the business here.

    “It’s a big enough city, let’s be honest,” she says. “There’s so many millions of tourists that come through every year, it’s not like we can’t have a slice of that.”

    Facebook & Instagram