Lantana Cafe and the ultimate Australian cafe experience inploi Team | 20.10.2017
Homesick for Australia’s thriving cafe culture, cofounders Shelagh, Michael and Caitlin established the first Lantana Cafe in Fitzrovia back in 2008. Passionate about coffee, brunch and their vision to make Lantana part of their customers life’s rituals, the founders have grown Lantana Cafe to three sites: Fitzrovia, Shoreditch and their latest opening in London Bridge! We caught up with Shay, Lantana Cafe’s one and only Pastry Chef, to find out more about a day in the life of work at this relaxed, aussie-inspired cafe.
Shay first joined Lantana Cafe Shoreditch six months ago, before joining the new team at London Bridge. “I have my own designated pastry area here and an oven of my own” he explains enthusiastically, “before I was trying to slip things into the ovens when I had a chance!” Having worked as a chef in Rosette-level and Michelin-starred kitchens, Shay was drawn to the more balanced and relaxed life that cooking in a cafe kitchen had to offer. The main perk of the job for chefs at Lantana Cafe are the hours, with most of the kitchen staff either morning or evening shifts (6.30am - 4pm or 12noon - 9pm). “This is the most free time I’ve had in my entire career!” Shay says.
The team source their bread from The Flour Station, based up in Hendon, so Shay focuses his time on baking lots of unique bakes and pastries. Orders are placed from each site and Shay makes sure that everything is baked and delivered on time. His interest in pastry has developed throughout his career, enjoying the more artistic and creative side of the role where he is given full creative license: “For me there’s just so much fun and freedom. Whatever I want to make, I can make it.” From doughnuts once a week, to old-time Australian favourites, there’s plenty of opportunities for Shay to explore new recipes and try new things.
“Brunch is also crazy busy at the weekends”, Shay adds with a smile (smiling because he gets to take the weekend off). Customers love to sit-in and relax, whilst the kitchen brigade are kept busy downstairs. However, even when the pace picks up, the Lantana Cafe team are able to keep a cool head. “I noticed it on my trial,” Shay says, “it’s just a really nice place to work - everyone is relaxed. Even if it’s busy, no one’s angry, no one’s stressy.”
It’s part of the culture at Lantana Cafe that everyone plays their part and gets on with their work, but can have fun whilst they’re doing it. “Front of house and kitchen - we get along really well. Here (at London Bridge) because everyone is new, it’s still a bit awkward because nobody really knows anybody! But we always get to have a laugh and a joke on the pass. Here they’re all really nice people.”
In addition, the management team are hot on work-life balance. “It’s a good thing,” Shay explains, “because they don’t want people to be stressed or tired.” Charlie, the group’s Executive Chef is particularly relaxed and knows his staff well. It’s a strong leadership trait to be able to manage people in the kitchen and maintain a nice working environment, even when things get busy. “If he sees you’re doing well, he will praise you,” Shay explains, “and there’s an opportunity to advance if you want it.” All they want to see from their chefs are enthusiasm, dedication, commitment and an eagerness to learn. As Shay says, he is really “living the dream”.
If you’re interested in join the Lantana Cafe team, find their latest job openings on the Lantana company page here!