Kilbirnie in Willington is known more for its excellent op shops rather than great dining options. The southside suburb now boasts a delightful patisserie by a young, accomplished chef, Maxine Scheckter.

For many years the spot where Sugar Flour resides was a dusty suburban tea house, complete with doilies and net curtains. Scheckter felt that the site had great potential. She set about a quick makeover and opened Sugar Flour in February. Already it has gathered a loyal following.

Scheckter grew up in a household where food was important; her parents Steven and Valda own Ontrays, a Wellington food-supply store known especially for its cheeses and South-african small goods. Both are currently helping out front of house at Sugar Flour.

Maxine always knew patisserie was where she wished to be. Study at Weltec was followed by further patisserie courses at Ferranti, followed by employment at Gâteaux Thoumieux in Paris. A shift to England saw her working at both Sketch and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.

Particular care is spent on procuring great ingredients and produce. Scheckter believes it was time spent working at London’s Borough market that taught her how to spot really good ingredients. “It’s very beneficial to learn about different produce and understand a bit more deeply about how you can work with certain things and how you can recognise certain qualities in items.”

Currently the shop is open three days a week – Friday to Sunday – though Maxine has plans to run degustation dinners on an occasional basis and to teach patisserie classes.

Tasting samples are kept under glass cloches – which may make your choices either harder or easier depending on your stamina. A chocolate canele perhaps? Or a plum and buffalo curd nest? Gin and citrus meringue? There are always savoury offerings too, such as a tomato tart, or chicken-liver parfait stuffed in a confit fig.

Tea is a selection of Libertine blends, coffee is either filter or cold brew, and prices are reasonable.

And should you be in transit at Wellington airport, and find yourself craving a sweet treat, it’s only 5 minutes’ drive away.

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