Gareth Whitton - Pastry Chef

We sat down with our mate Gareth Whitton and and chatted all things tarts. Stay up to date with Gareth and Tarts Anon through his Instagram.

Hey Gareth, tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a chef and have been for as long as I remember. In high school I was a bit directionless, as there was nothing I really wanted to pursue other than the things I loved like playing cricket and rugby. At 14 years old I started working as a kitchenhand at an African restaurant, just washing pots and cooking bits and pieces on quieter times. I was awful but loved it. As time went on, I got better and thought why don’t I give this a crack. Food was always served for a purpose for me as I was one of seven kids, but when I was cooking, I felt I was the master of my own destiny. I went to culinary school for a bit, but it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t put myself into that headspace, and even till this day I still struggle. Some of my mentors and best chef’s in the world aren’t professionally trained!

How was your experience working as a Head Pastry Chef with Heston Blumenthal and at one of Melbourne’s renowned pastry shops Lune?

I was 26 years old when I moved to London to start working at Dinner by Heston. I started as a sous-chef and worked my way up to become a Head Pastry Chef. I was there for a total of 6 years with working in the London restaurant for a year and then deciding to move to Melbourne for the remainder of my time there. It was a very exhausting and demanding. Dinner closed due monetary issues and allowed me to get a position at Lune. COVID then hit and the hospitality industry was put at a halt, leaving me to get a job at Woolworths stacking shelves. At this point I started Tarts Anon. Tarts Anon for me was always like a side hustle, bit of fun and money that subsidized the income that I wasn’t earning. Once hospitality resumed I quickly got promoted as the Kitchen Manager at Lune. With Tarts Anon on the side I was burning out real quick, so I had to make a decision.

Tarts was expanding rapidly from our co-working space in Collingwood and knew it was an opportunity that we couldn’t ignore. Shortly after, we got offered our current shop in Cremorne, we renovated it into a café and fitted out a production kitchen. Lune was super supportive and encouraged the entrepreneurial spirit that I had. At Dinner by Heston I learnt my style but at Lune I learnt how to run a business and gain standards.

What made you want to open Tarts Anon and importantly why tarts?

I’ve never been able to fully articulate why tarts because there are so many reasons. I’ve always loved old school cooking, I think simplicity is the embodiment of functional beauty. All you need is your hands, rolling pin and a tin. I’ve had a little infinity with them because they’re something so classic as they’ve been around for a long time. They’re one of those things that would be in the same form and look the same as they were since back in the 1800s. The tart is like the shark, it hasn’t evolved for millions of years because it’s perfect, it’s the apex predator. They’re the apex predator of the pastry world. 

It did take a bit of pride swallowing from me to go from fine dining chef at a three Michelin Star restaurant in Europe to opening a bakery. But then I thought if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it the best I can and make it unique. The business naturally grew from two flavours a week to now seven flavours on the menu for the whole month. Our menu changes monthly with 120 flavours in our catalogue with one or two flavours being completely new. This month’s flavour is ‘Banoffee Pie’ loaded with caramelized bananas, coffee, white chocolate cream and dark chocolate on the top.

What’s been one of your highlights and challenges of opening your own business?  

Highlight would definitely be the first day of opening the business and being a guest judge on MasterChef. MasterChef had ratifications that allowed us to create those big spikes and successes in my business which constituted a highlight. Another small but big highlight in my eyes is being able to see an apprentice grow with no experience in the kitchen to then being able to replicate technical skills that I do, it is such an achievement. Challenges are bottomless and are never-ending. Ironically staffing is an issue, assuring they’re drinking the kool aid and being able to show them what we’re all about. 

How would you describe your experience as a guest judge on MasterChef versus a contestant and winner on Dessert Masters?

MasterChef was a very surreal experience of having people cook my food and judging it. Internally, it was cool to see them struggle a bit but also a belief to me to see that the recipe does truly work under any condition. There are so many things you can’t do in the kitchen as a contestant versus’ being a judge, like no phones or watches to be on you. We were treated in between an amateur contestant and a judge. I was competing against accomplished business owners such as Adriano Zumbo, Kirsten Tibballs, Anna Polyviou and Reynold Poernomo. Both were unreal experiences especially winning the first season of Dessert Masters which is set to go global, I'm so grateful to have been apart of it. 

 What you consider your go-to outfit is?

I like to keep it simple with block colours and I don’t dress super formal unless it’s for an event as I’m very self-conscious of overdressing. I feel my style transcends a few occasions from casual to dressy. My go-to fit will be a crisp white sneaker, pair of shorts and oversized t-shirt.

One pair of Wild Rhino’s you’re loving at the moment?

Bart - I’m into something super classic and I felt as Bart is a little more understated with a real sense of elegance. I can wear them to the café or pub, but also chuck them on with a suit and look just as smart.



Early-bird or Night-Owl? Night-Owl

Top 3 Melbourne Restaurants? Gimlet, Oriental Impressions and Capitano 

Favourite Tart? Cherry and Almond tart – made with frangipane almonds, baked sour cherries and bit of icing sugar on the top

Knock-off Drink of Choice? A longneck of VB or a Melbourne

Introvert or Extrovert? Both

Check out Gareth's tart-istry at Tarts Anon in Cremorne & Collingwood. You won't be disappointed!