The blog and weekly journal of South Australian artist, Elaine Cheng, as she travels through Adelaide, interviewing the local cafes and restaurants. Art, inspirations, and beloved products will be inserted here and there.

Famished Fridays: By Blackbird with Chakey Kim

There's an indescribable feeling of contentment when you finally stumble across a cafe that makes you feel at home. By Blackbird has always been that home to many.

You may remember the cozy little patisserie tucked away on King William Road, or the taste of those buttery croissants melting on your tongue... 3 years down the track, and they are still one of Adelaide's finest French pastry makers.

This week, we're introducing you to the lady who started the family at By Blackbird. Meet owner and pastry chef, Chakey Kim. 


So what made you take an interest in patisserie? 

Her answer to our question was as unexpected as the story.

"I was studying Asian fine art at the time and decided to take time off painting. I was only 20, and I just wanted something new. I joined many different classes... cookery, clothing design, teaching... When I applied for a cooking class, it was fully booked. I had to wait another month. The school suggested a free baking class while I waited. It changed my life.

"In the early morning, I would turn on the oven... the smell of butter, chocolate, fresh hot bread... people were so happy when they got a cake that I just finished... I fell in love with pastry."


Building a nest

Born in South Korea, Chakey Kim had been working in a small boutique bakery as a young chef. "I loved that place," she recalled, "it was very personal, unlike commercial kitchens." Making her way to Australia in 2004, she arrived in Melbourne to attend TAFE at William Angliss.

In 2009, she moved to Adelaide with one goal in mind: to start her own business as a pastry chef. The result? Au Matin Calme was born. "The name has a special meaning for me," Chakey explained as she shares a secret with us, "It means 'morning calm' in French, which is Korea, often referred to as 'The Land of the Morning Calm'".


Spreading her wings

Despite its first year of success, and the opening of the second store the following year, Chakey was no longer enjoying her work at Au Matin Calme. Everything seemed bleak at that point with her dreams broken and her personal life ruined.

"At the end of May 2011, I felt like I had lost everything... I had one more chance to open a shop. It was a huge gamble, not just financially, but because I felt so alone and I had lost all confidence in myself, giving up felt like the easiest thing to do. Opening By Blackbird saved my dreams. To me, blackbird means to never give up, it means hope and happiness. To fly with broken wings. Yes, By Blackbird saved me.

Now at the end of May 2015, By Blackbird has given me a new kitchen, a great team (Jenny and Bonnie are our young passionate pastry chefs), and a family."


"Most of our customers are regulars. They love my broken English," Chakey smiles, "they love to tell me stories. I've attended funerals... I've been invited to their weddings. I've met their newborn babies and watched them grow up and run around my shop. I laugh and cry with them." 


Birds of the same feather flock together

"If the blackbird is me, then Jin is my wing."

By Blackbird just doesn't feel the same without Jin Lim manning the front of the store. Despite his modesty and his constant request to 'just focus on Chakey', we managed to squeeze some information out of the humble manager.

Growing up as a local boy in Adelaide, Jin initially worked in finance and auditing for the AMP, moving from Brisbane to Malaysia and back to Adelaide. He eventually quit his job with a desire to start something of his own and met Chakey at Au Matin Calme, who shared the same dream.


"You don't get to meet many people working in finance. It might get busy and stressful here, but I love this place, I love to entertain." True to his word, Jin will always find time to come over and talk to you and crack a few jokes, no matter how busy it gets. 


If you've never tasted a pastry made by Chakey then you're in for a treat. Trust the family at By Blackbird to give you the best attention and care... for many years to come.

"My dream is to become the oldest pastry chef who can share my experiences in the kitchen," says Chakey, and there may be new members to the family coming soon...!

Recommended Items: ALL the croissants, Istanbul carrot cake, plum tart, pumpkin pie, leek quiche, peanut butter hot chocolate. Their high tea option is a must-try, let Chakey surprise you.

By Blackbird

3/44-46 King William Rd, Goodwood SA 5034

Monday - Tuesday: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Thursday - Sunday:  9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Wednesdays: Closed

Credits to Liam Tang for the photos, thankyou!