Queen of Tartes, Chloe Watts

Queen of Tartes, Chloe Watts

Gold Coast born and raised; Chloe Watts is a sweet spot in the Coast’s culinary scene. The former owner of the renowned Paddock Bakery, before opening Tarte in Burleigh and more recently Tarte Beach House, Currumbin Creek, Chloe could justifiably earn the title of the Gold Coast’s ‘Queen of Tartes’.

Every venue that she has owned has received unrivalled attention from fans, love from both press and social media, as each one progressed from strength to strength.

Yet, none of this success has happened by chance. From a family of food lovers, Chloe says she was blessed by positive, forward-thinking parents whose inclusion of their children in their daily lives has enabled both her love of food and design, and her attitude to life.

“Mum was an amazing cook. We didn’t grow up with basic Australian cuisine, but with a lot of Asian-influenced food, such as san choy bao and handmade pork dumplings,” she says with a smile.

“We were also exposed to world flavours when we travelled with our parents. This sparked something in my older brother Ben, and in me, making us passionate eaters as well as creators.”

While travelling to Sydney and then London, Europe and the US, Chloe began creating her own portfolio of ideas, such as venue concept design, different dishes she loved, and the differences in pastries around the world.

“The French may have been the originators of pastry, but other places such as New York have refined its quality, elevated it from its original concept to find what works and what doesn’t,” she tells us.

Taking over the hugely popular ‘bread-centric’ Paddock from her brother Ben, Chloe added ‘a menu of what I love to eat’ (including more pastries and brunches), the interior décor showing a different side of Paddock, with a juice and milkshake bar added as well as a loft, which expanded seating options.

Two and a half years later, during the heart of Covid in 2020, Chloe grabbed the chance to secure a prime corner location in Burleigh Heads; one that would truly reflect her vision and dreams, the impressive Parisian-style pâtisserie Tarte, referencing the great continental bakeries she had visited in her travels.

Finally, after all the years Chloe spent planning, sourcing design features, creating those all-important details and testing recipes, Tarte’s beautiful detailing came together as a work of art. While the allure begins on the street with Tarte’s gilded name and bespoke windows, inside the venue shows at least as much labour-intensive preparation: 100-year-old counter tops and door handles, vintage train luggage racks, imported vintage light shades, wall sconces from Amsterdam, duck blue accents and tableware. The floor is the pièce de resistance, with 5,000 hexagonal white tiles being chipped out by Chloe and her dad and a black tile being painstakingly hand laid in its place.

If the venue is a feast for the eyes, it is well-matched in the food. Tarte’s menu of internationally inspired delights is lovingly brought to us from Paris, New York and San Francisco, each dish boasting a history rich enough to lead us on our own explorations. The salad and fresh juice bar, added a couple of years after opening, is the final piece of the jigsaw, Chloe says, extending the venue’s offerings to a wider audience.

While Tarte had been the realisation of Chloe’s dreams, Tarte Beach House expanded that vision even further.

“This had been my dream spot for years,” says Chloe, as she recounted her longing walk-bys dating back to childhood. “I had always seen the potential in this building and knew that one day I would make it my own,” she adds.

Chloe’s dreams took their first step towards reality when her mother urged her to approach the former restaurateur and ask whether she would consider selling. The timing was right, and after Chloe secured the dual-lease property, she set about transforming the building to her own exceptionally high standards.

Just as she did with Tarte in Burleigh, Chloe visions her venues herself, drawing designs and pulling together her network of trades to help her customise everything from windows to moldings, and layout to colours. She spends months sourcing individual vintage and antique pieces to speak of the heritage of her café: 100-year-old umbrellas from a French beach, an old pharmacy table for the entranceway sits on a black and white marbled floor, and lawyer cane light shades along the veranda that ground the French theming in Queensland. Each piece of furniture, each beam framing the view has its own story of its former life and how it came to be here. Upstairs, with a 100-year-old fig tree framing the entrance, a wall of historic photographs tells the story of the two Tarte venues through the ages.

“This is my happy place, working here looking across the river,” Chloe tells us, as we talk about the mental health benefits of blue and green space. “It’s so peaceful. So serene.”

Not content with replicating Tarte, Chloe wanted the menu of her Beach House to fit the iconic magnitude of its location: “I wanted to bring an elevated take on Tarte to this amazing venue,” she says. The stylish 100-seat restaurant boasts attention-grabbing savoury dishes, such as zingy House-cured beetroot and citrus-cured salmon served with fresh citrus pieces and herbs around a bed of whipped crème fraîche, or the luxurious Lobster roll with hot buttered Southern Rock lobster sandwiched in a toasted homemade brioche bun. Using only top ingredients, it’s no surprise that the Steak ‘n’ Frites Sandwich features Wagyu, shoestring fries and homemade chimichurri, or that the Crab Linguini shows off local Spanner crab at its best, served with confit tomato, garlic, chilli and olive oil.  A varied array of pastries complements the savoury offerings, the venue expanding as we speak to a private function room serving high tea and lunches to groups, with picnic baskets, afternoon drinks and charcuterie and supper club in the pipeline.

“So much of who I am and what I do originates from my parents and how I was brought up,” Chloe tells us. “From venue design to our menus, I have passion for what I do, and I work hard to see my plans come to fruition. Nothing comes easily. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. I have to work for it.”

Asked what she has had to give up to achieve her goals, Chloe flips her answer back to positive: “Balance is important. I am a mum first with a business, not a businesswoman with a child. My son, Charlie, comes to work a lot, and he loves it here as much as I do! I am fortunate to spend more time with him than most working mums do,” she adds.

“Of course, there are people who help me. My husband is an amazing dad, and I have a great support team. I train and treat my team members with respect, and we are still together, years later,” Chloe tells us. “Most of all, though, it comes down to mindset. You need to have a passion and believe that you can achieve what you want to…” she says, “…like many more Tartes in the next ten years!” she adds, leaving us all smiles.

Tarte Beach House, 2 Thrower Drive, Currumbin QLD 4223 Open daily: 6.30am – 3pm.

Open daily 6.30am – 3pm
2 Thrower Drive, Currumbin QLD 4223