Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
3 minute read
3 Dec 2021
3:11 pm

Just Teddy serves pastry perfection and now a cookbook

Sandisiwe Mbhele

The book details the family’s travels, which inspired them to create their delish breads and pastries. 

Teddy Zaki. Picture: Supplied

In just a couple of years, this family business, Just Teddy Fine Boulangerie & Pâtisserie, has cemented itself as one of the top pâtisserie shops in Johannesburg. 

Teddy Zaki should be a face familiar with The Great South African Bake Off viewers as he made it into the top three on season two of the baking competition in 2015.  

His passion for baking goes back to his childhood. He baked with his family and baked for them every Sunday, and this passion for pastry, bread and food shines through their pâtisserie shop, Just Teddy Fine Boulangerie & Pâtisserie, in Hyde Park Corner, Johannesburg.

Teddy tells The Citizen that Just Teddy started as a small home bakery in downtown Johannesburg and as their popularity grew, so did their business.

The book details the family’s travels, which inspired them to create their delish breads and pastries. 

During their book launch at their store, guests were treated to many of these delectables.

WATCH: Just Teddy an alchemy of French and Lebanese cultures

A book that has written itself over the years, Just Teddy – Petals from Paris, is a cookbook about the origins of the shop. It details their sacrifices and many feel-good stories too. 

“It hasn’t been plain sailing. There has been a lot of hits and misses and mistakes. It was time for the book to be launched,” Teddy said. 

The display area at Just Teddy is a dream, filled with macaroons, coloured cupcakes, petit fours, meringues, chocolate ganache tarts, custard tarts, baklava and more.

Just Teddy Fine Boulangerie & Pâtisserie. Picture: Supplied

The cafe’s isnt just inspired by French pâtisseries. Teddy is Lebanese and has French lineage – his paternal grandmother was French. Because the two countries are so intertwined, as Lebanon was a French colony, Teddy says Beirut is considered the Paris of the Middle East because of the pastries.  

The French pâtisserie market is a bit saturated but Just Teddy uses its Lebanese roots to differentiate itself from the rest. A fusion of France and Lebanon, the store has two counters celebrating each culture.

Co-owner Jeff Zaki, son of Teddy, joked he is the head chef, as he’s in charge of the bread and admits being in a family business can be challenging. 

“Because we are highly passionate, meticulous individuals but when we come as a group, we create something explosive and meaningful.”

Jeff is self-taught, teaching himself to bake bread because he was “bored” during his father’s away stint on the Bake Off.  

“I couldn’t just be the businessman [in the family]. I needed to do something that was hands-on other than just being an entrepreneur.”

Their location in Hyde Park is a staple for many patrons and opening another shop in Johannesburg is not an option for them.

Jeff says: “A second store might dull the sharpness of our store and may take away from our uniqueness. We might open one abroad.”

With the festive season is in full swing and many families and friends ready to host get-togethers and family functions, Teddy says the downsizing trend brought by the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing. 

He says people still like intimate events, with fewer people and more focus on the details. On the sweet side of catering, a showstopper could be a yule log and the recipe is provided in the book. 

“It has the option to decorate however you like.”

Just Teddy is busy with their Christmas collection, which includes the basic yule log, adding that it will be on the luxury side and elegant.

Just Teddy – Petals from Paris is made for the home baker and the recipes range from easy to advanced, like the showstopper -croquembouche. 

The book is available at the Just Teddy store and on their website .