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The end of 2014 was an exciting time for me with the launch of my chocolate bar collaboration with Valhrona – “Profile 66”, the excitement of Chocolate Week 2014 and the demonstrations I gave at The Chocolate Show and the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show.
And of course 2015 started with a bang with the Pastry World Cup competition in January 2015! Lots of hard work by me and the others in the team resulted in the UK finishing 5th – the highest we’ve ever achieved!
So, lets start at the beginning, when did you decide to become a chef?
I’ve been told by my family that I talked about being a chef from when I was around 8 years old.
And how did you get started?
My culinary journey all started when I discovered whilst visiting my family on my holidays in France; their normal eating habits were more relaxed than back home! It seemed that we would be allowed to eat whatever we liked. This got me thinking about different types of food and I quickly learned that the more I talked about food and cooking, the more my mam would involve me in cooking and baking at home…. That was the start of it all.
What made you decide to specialize in pastry?
I have the biggest sweet tooth, as you can imagine – although I love food, sweet things always win!
Would you say that anyone in particular has been a strong influence on you?
So now that you’re heading your own kitchen, what do you look for in your chefs?
You’ve had quite an unusual career for a chef, do you think this has been an advantage for you?
Definitely. I went to Cafe Royal after almost 4 years away from the kitchen. My time at Le Manoir was critical for developing my skills within the kitchen as a chef. Then working within a cookery school gave me a new perspective, and a chance to develop my communication and presentation skills beyond the kitchen. Teaching pastry to ‘ordinary’ people is completely different to training chefs- it really tests both your understanding and your ability to explain. From there I went to Degustibus; this opportunity to focus entirely on bread and learn from a master baker would not have been possible in a kitchen. I could get involved in every stage. Some of my best days there were working at Borough or Hackney market selling bread directly to customers – members of the public as enthusiastic about bread as I was! Here I also got my first real taste of business, which led to me taking on a role in a much larger, commercial bread wholesale company. As Operations Manager at ‘Jungs’ I got a real education in business. Moving back into the kitchen, I was able take those skills for strategy and management into new roles.
It sounds as if Executive Pastry Chef gives you an opportunity to pull all of your experience together, what does the future hold for you?
You’ve achieved a lot already, if you weren’t a chef what would you be?
What do you do for fun?
There is so much going on with work and the Pastry World Cup! But when I do get some time I love to go out on my bike, I enjoy photography and also like to go back home to the North East to visit my family. But, I do love to crash on the settee with TV box set, Mrs B and bag of Haribo!
What advice would you give to aspiring pastry chefs