What’s it like working as the pastry sous chef at one of London’s most iconic hotels, The Ritz?
It’s challenging, it’s hard but then I think all good things are. I’d mostly say that I’m very proud. I’ve been here for four and a half years and it feels very satisfying to have worked my way up to where I am now. It sounds soppy but I really do love this place. It’s been my home for nearly five years! It’s got so much prestige and I’m an English girl through and through, so to be a part of that is something I’m very proud of. I think it’s an incredible place to work and to learn. There are so many outlets; we produce the food for the Restaurant, Private Dining, Rivoli Bar, Room service, and the infamous Palm Court. We make all our own bread, viennoisserie, petit fours and all our own chocolate. There’s a lot to do!
What do you love most about your job as a pastry chef?
You may have to do a hundred and one other things when you come in in the morning but you also get to create new dishes, and I find that fun. As hard as it is to be creative sometimes, I really like the playful aspect of my job. It’s very enjoyable being creative!
Who or what inspires your work the most?
My sister lives in Paris and I regularly go over there and while she’s working, I just walk around and look in restaurants and patisseries and come up with ideas for what I want to do next, I find that inspires me the most. There are so many ideas to gain just from looking in windows. There’s so much that you can take and make your own and do your own version of. I think that everything comes from something else. I read a lot of books and try and eat out as much as I can. Within reason of finance and time, of course! Seeing other people's work gives me a lot of ideas to work on, too.
Describe your style in three words…
I think the best three words are classic, elegant and clean…
What’s your favourite ingredient to work with at the moment?
Rhubarb; I love rhubarb season. At the moment we have a vanilla yogurt parfait with poached rhubarb with champagne and ginger served with a warm doughnut with a rhubarb and ginger jam, with some orange in there, too. It’s so nice when you have something seasonal in this country that is good and that you can utilise. We’re trying to put rhubarb on to lots of different things whilst it’s in – on the petit fours, in the restaurant and in the afternoon tea!
If you could take a trip to experience pastries anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Recently, I actually had the chance to take my dream trip. I went to Le Bristol in Paris, which I’ve been dreaming about going to for about five or six years! It was awesome. The pastry there is exceptional. The chef, Laurent Jeannin, is amazing. To go there and see what they do was very exciting. The petit four trolley was just incredible!
Do you have a favourite patisserie book that you always go to for fail-safe recipes?
I do. It’s a book that came out about six months ago called The Praline by a gentleman called Stéphane Leroux. It’s an incredible book and I just keep going back to it. It’s got recipes that don’t take three days and various different stages that use ridiculous things that nobody has. You can do them at home just as much as you could do them at work. He’s a chocolatier and an incredible man so that has got be my favourite book of the moment.
Do you have any plans in the pipeline? A book of your own maybe?
We’re changing a lot at the moment and when everything changes you have to build up again. My only goal at the moment is to continue to progress and improve with the aim to continually be as good as we can be. We’ve just started making our own croissants in the morning, which is a very exciting change!
And finally, just for fun, what does your usual breakfast menu entail? Is it all cakes and pastries?
Well, honestly, it’s these croissants that we’ve just started baking in-house. I’m very lucky, I get to come in and have a home-baked croissant every morning. It’s not very good for the summer health-kick but they are absolutely delicious!