I wake up at 6:30am on a typical weekday. I’m not a morning person, but I need to wake up early and start working from home in the morning, to keep on top of my workload. Between baking, speaking to customers, contacting suppliers and teaching Macaron Baking Classes my days are always full, so I try to squeeze as much time as I can out of each day.
By 8:30am I arrive at the bakery. The first thing I do is check the progress of our orders. For some of our bigger clients, such as Maison Blanc, we produce orders of thousands of macarons in a variety of flavours; including Blood Orange, Raspberry Coulis and our irresistible Salted Caramel. After checking the progress that our evening baking staff has made, I speak to my co-director, Paul, and we set out what baking we need to do for the day.
Macarons are a temperamental pastry and require constant attention. Our baking times and temperatures are constantly changing depending on the slightest change in weather. Even as an experienced pastry chef, things do sometimes go wrong with macarons, so it is important for me and Paul to be able to help out our team in a moment’s notice.
At 10:00am sharp, I meet with the whole Ganache Macaron team, in our office at the back of the bakery, to discuss the important tasks for the day. After going through our to-do list, we also share anything interesting that any of us may have seen around London. I believe working in an inspiring environment is key to creating an excellent product. We are constantly looking to innovate and try new things with our macarons. Last September we completed one of our largest pieces to date; a handmade life-sized, Marie Antoinette-inspired dress covered in macarons.
To encourage our flow of ideas, one of our sales team created an “Idea Box”. When any of us come up with an idea for a flavour, macaron creation, competition or anything else, we write it down and pop it in the “Idea Box”. At the end of the month we break open the box at our creative brainstorming sessions, to get the discussion flowing. It always gets us talking for hours.
I am lucky to work in such a multicultural environment where ideas and traditions from all over the world can be shared and eventually used to create amazing macarons. Just in our little bakery, I interact and work with people from Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, USA and New Zealand. This does not include my Macaron Class alumni, who also come from all corners of the globe.
After going through my emails and speaking with clients, Paul and I spend most of our afternoons developing new flavours. A lot of my time goes into developing each flavour to make sure that it is something that people will love. Each flavour takes us several weeks to develop. The process involves lots of trial and error with different ingredients and measurements. We never use any artificial flavouring, so we are constantly running out to the supermarket to find the best fresh ingredients for our filling. One of our latest creations is a Banana Macaron which is packed with fresh bananas, creating a unique and delicious combination.
The whole Ganache Macaron team acts as guinea pigs when Paul and I are testing new flavours. Sometimes we even do blind taste tests where we put many different flavoured fillings in the same coloured shells so that the team has to guess which flavour is which. This way we can learn, firstly, if the flavour is identifiable and whether it is prominent enough, and secondly, if its taste is up to the standard of our range.
The time I leave the bakery varies from evening to evening, depending on how busy Paul and I are. The days always fly by faster than expected, and we often stay at the bakery late into the evening to finish orders and catch up on our emails.
Even after I leave the bakery for the evening, I am always thinking about the business and how to improve it with new flavours, new approaches, etc. Once I get home, I like to be creative with my dinners. I often cook meals from scratch, experimenting with different flavours from all over the world. I also like to revisit classic French recipes that I remember from growing up in Paris. One of my favourite dishes to cook at the moment is Poulet à la Normande, a divine combination of chicken, apples, cider and cream.
I am naturally a night owl. My evening activities often include looking through food magazines. I can spend hours looking at food, taking inspiration from different ingredients, recipes and great food styling. I seem to find inspiration for our macarons wherever I look, even if it is nothing to do with food. When I see something interesting, I automatically think of a way to incorporate it into our macarons. Eventually, I have to force myself to go to bed, which is sometimes difficult, as I could stay up all night thinking up ideas for Ganache Macaron.
Images © Matthew Butterfield www.matthewbutterfield.com