It's barely light. Down a windblown South Yarra side street, a small clutch of people shiver and fidget with anticipation. Two have come from Adelaide and have been waiting since 5am. Another pair, hyped like One Direction fans have brought books to get signed and occasionally gasp 'There he is!' when they catch a glimpse of their hero.
As the day gets lighter, the queue grows longer. The round, silver 'closed' sign is flipped to 'open' for the first time. It's 7am and it's Zumbo time. The queue readies itself to file reverentially into celebrity pastry chef Adriano Zumbo's newly minted Melbourne store, basking in the pink neon glow and trippy interior with its gleaming silver ceiling and ornate pink chairs cast like gooey, oozing confections. But when the first customer into the store is presented with a gift bag of goodies the sheer excitement kicks in and a sugary hubbub ensues. People walk out with slender boxes of macarons in their hands and hot pink cups of coffee to go.
A young mother poses for a photo with her baby under Zumbo's glowing neon signature. One girl rushes back to her friend in the queue to say she managed to communicate with Zumbo through the window and their favourite cake will be out in an hour.
For those who don't know their Zumbo from their Zumba, Adriano Zumbo is an Australian and French-trained patissier who is known for his delicate, elaborate desserts, often using intriguing savoury flavours in a sweet sense. He became a household name when he posed the croquembouche tower challenge on MasterChef.
He said the reception at the store opening had been “insane”.
“I wasn't expecting that, I just thought it would be an easy day and then the weekend would be busy," Zumbo said.
“There was a queue this morning down the road so it's been a good start.”
Rebecca Reid, 22, drove from the Victorian border with friends just for the store opening.
“I'm actually from Echuca so we drove down today just to come to Zumbo. It was a three hour trip,” Reid said.
“We've been to all of his Sydney shops, my girlfriend and I, and we've got all his books, so we wanted to come down and try his macarons again. It looks awesome. They've done a great job.”
The patisserie is in an unlikely location, hidden behind Chapel Street in South Yarra.
Peekaboo windows into a large kitchen show a squadron of industrious patissiers (including Adriano Zumbo himself this morning) at work and a separate, small, glassed-in area where white, edible lotus flowers are being crafted to decorate the famous eight-layered V8 vanilla cake. And while it's not so much a dine-in venue, there is a cute glassed-in section with two pink couches either side of a slicked coffee table where you can enjoy a sweet treat with your coffee.
While the whole range wasn't out at the store's early opening (a small laminated 'Zonut' sign waiting temptingly in the wings), the famous 'Zumbarons' were. Fourteen macaron flavours to choose from, with black clad staff expertly helping customers to choose between flavours like caramelised banana and balsamic vinegar (the filling dabbed with a zingy balsamic syrup), almond and pear or coconut and lychee. More Wonka-style mash-ups include fingerbun, bread and butter pudding, and pecan danish.
Some hardcore fans who had lined up in the dark joined the queue for a second time around, watching and waiting for new creations to come out the kitchen. Now if only Zumbo could invent a One Direction macaron (a One Dimacaron?) – then we could really see the crowd go wild.
Zumbo, 12 Claremont St, South Yarra, 7am-7pm daily (or until sold out)