Meet the Pastry Chef: Matt Schmutsch, Pembroke Patisserie

Pastry Chef Matt Schmutsch does things properly. He and his wife, Kirsty, started Pembroke Pâtisserie in 2014, where the chef creates a range of classic patisserie offerings, including their now-famous pastries, doughnuts and savouries. 

Schmutsch began his career at 17, when he left school and started work in a little bakery called Eaglehawk Hotbake in his home town of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. 

“Mum used to drop me off at 5am!”

Enjoying what the job entailed, Schmutsch took up a pastry chef apprenticeship at Gillies Pies and upon completion travelled to Uluṟu where he worked at a resort. It was here that he met Kirsty and together they travelled, and worked in Melbourne. The pair spent 10 years in Christchurch before settling in Wānaka and opening Pembroke Pâtisserie, a business that utilised the best of their combined skills and expertise. 

The boutique patisserie is situated in Albert Town, just a five minute drive from Central Wānaka. Schmutsch’s pastries are sought after and the almond croissants prove very popular. Alongside sweet treats and delicious Allpress coffee, the café serves freshly made sandwiches, handmade chocolates and fresh breads.

In his approach to baking, Schmutsch offers advice to use the best ingredients you can find and afford, follow the recipe, perfect techniques and be prepared so as to reduce errors and waste. 

His favourite thing to make is bread. 

“It’s therapeutic and rhythmic. I put on some good tunes and just get in the zone. I find it quite calming.”

The chef also loves making pies, since his time as an apprentice at Gillies, with Pembroke offering flavours like Moroccan Lamb, Cheeseburger, and Mexican Pork. 

The Pembroke customers love to be surprised and trust the patisserie’s chefs to make something yummy. Schmutsch appreciates the camaraderie of a kitchen environment, thriving under the pressure of high energy, hustle and bustle. His team love creating specials based on the seasons, and holidays and events keep them interested and inspired. Every week brings new specials and the unique menu is constantly changing.

“I love seeing happy customers. I love their faces when they come into the patisserie and can’t decide what they want to eat because it looks so good!”

Social media also serves as a big inspiration to Schmutsch, who often scrolls through Instagram. In a recent trend, he has seen a lot of reinvention of classics - evoking memories and nostalgia, something the chef himself loves to do.

On his days off from the Pembroke Pâtisserie kitchen, Schmutsch enjoys a brisk walk up Mt Iron to clear out the cobwebs, as well as relaxing with his children and cooking up something good for the family. In the future, he’d like to work less and travel a bit more though loves what he is doing for now.