Keep Pushing: New Job (Again!), Desserts & a Cremeux Recipe


Yoghurt & honey mousse with strawberry jelly insert, strawberry gel & fresh Kent strawberries, coffee granola, cereal milk ice-cream and lemon balm.

If there was one word I could use to describe this crazy industry I find myself in it’s this: fluid.

When I started working as a professional pastry chef about 18 months ago (give or take), I never would’ve guessed that I’d have learned so much in such a short amount of time, met so many great people, or been given the opportunities to develop that I have; I also wouldn’t have guessed that I’d already be onto job no. 3.

I have incredibly mixed feelings about this. I come from an accomplished family who work in industries that value commitment and loyalty, values that were instilled in me from a young age. So moving around jobs so much as an adult leaves me feeling a bit torn – on the one hand, I feel disappointed in myself for not sticking it out or “going the distance”; on the other I know that the decisions I make are based on sound, logical (and sometimes medical) reasoning, and they’ve led me to the position I’m now in, which makes me incredibly happy.

Blueberry curd slice on maple pecan biscuit base, chai white chocolate cremeux, blueberry compote and sugar tuile; “The Malteser” – malt biscuit brushed with milk, dark choc & white choc cremeux, milk choc sorbet, malt meringue, malt streusel.

Everybody told me (and still continues to) that this life that I’ve chosen is a hard one, that I will sacrifice so much to it and that’s why I really have to love it; the talk I gave last year repeated this sage advice. The normal rules of “life” do not apply in the professional kitchen: when you burn yourself you pick your cookies up, run it under cold water and slap some cream on it, then you continue; when you cut yourself you wrap it up and keep going, unless you’re bleeding over everything, in which case you might go to the hospital, but probably you’re just going to do something weird like using meat glue to stick yourself back together (side note: meat glue is the most disgusting thing I have ever heard of); racism, sexism, abuse and harassment are just kitchen banter and if you want to complain about it you’re going to be labelled as “that-person-who-bitched-about-everything”. In other words, any normal “work-place propriety” does not apply here and that’s something I’ve had to get used to very quickly.

I remember the first time I saw something I deemed “inappropriate” in a kitchen: a senior chef was bollocking a junior for something they had messed up, which he then followed up by grabbing him by his chef whites and practically shoving his head into the pot of food. I froze, felt my stomach rise into my throat and I remember thinking, “this is really happening, this isn’t on TV, this is happening right now“. It was terrifying but the thing that shocked me the most was how the rest of the staff did nothing. If anything, they sped up, terrified that they would be next (and now, having been on the other side, I know exactly why they did/said nothing). I was called over to a station and truffles were thrust into my hands with the instruction to hurry and put these away as fast as I could – I practically ran, my cheeks red, still hearing the shouting coming from behind me.
“Why am I doing this?!” My head screamed at me, “why am I here?!”

And yet I’m still here, still working, and I’ve finally grown that thick skin everybody told me about. But I was sick of the 16+ hour days, of coming home to find my partner asleep and leaving before he woke up, of not even having enough time to look after my health properly, of being so exhausted and stressed out that I was getting sick every two weeks. So after a year in a busy hotel and a few months in a busy restaurant, I needed to take a step-back, re-evaluate and find a job that would allow me to develop my own work and progress, as well as look after myself and my partner a little better.

Amazingly, I found that and I am now so happy in my work life it’s unbelievable.


I’m Still Feeding: New Digs & A Few Developments


My first team, my best girls!

Just when you thought I’d disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again, I figured I’d stir things up a bit and write a blog post. I know, it’s almost like I’ve been doing this for nearly five years, or something!

So what’s going on with me? Well, I’m still pastry chef-ing, though I have recently moved on from a wonderful year filled with learning and excellent people at Claridge’s. I briefly worked with a small business but it wasn’t a great fit so I moved on (it seems strange to have so much turnover in this industry and yet it happens all the time! TS was just remarking the other day how the hospitality industry appears to be the only one where people regularly lose their minds and just walk out in the middle of their shift; I didn’t do this, by the way), and I now work as a slightly higher position in a restaurant/hotel which I officially cannot talk about. It’s a bit like Fight Club – the first rule of your new job is: do not talk about where you are currently a pastry chef. The second rule of your new job is: DO NOT TALK ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE CURRENTLY A PASTRY CHEF. Suffice to say that I am very happy, learning a lot, loving my team and I get to play with liquid nitrogen. Oh, also, my new executive head chef is somebody I’ve admired for a long time so the fact that I get to work with him now is just a dream come true! The chef fan girl in me quietly freaks out every time he talks to me, which I would never admit in person because I’m pretty sure he’d get very embarrassed and then, uh, never talk to me again.


All Day, All Night: Settling Into My New Routine & An Announcement!


Life has been a whirlwind lately, hence why I’ve not managed to post for the past few months. Early starts, late finishes and an awful lot of heavy lifting fill my days but you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way because I have so much fun doing it all.

Sure, there have been days when I’ve been so stressed out of my head that I’ve had to leave the kitchen to sob for 5 minutes, there have been days when I’ve questioned why I’m doing this, am I too old, too green, not tough enough, but at the end of the questions I come back to the same conclusion: I chose this because I love it, because the work I do is rewarding and because I’m so proud to be a part of it.


Welcome to 2014: Strawberry Tuxedos


Life, recently, has been somewhat of a blur. My days consist of getting up early, commuting to work (a first for me!), spending all day in a kitchen, commuting back home and, mostly, passing out on the sofa before being nudged awake by TS and reluctantly trudging up to bed for a few hours until I have to do it all over again.

I don’t make it sound very exciting, do I? But it is, oh goodness, it is so great. I love the fact that I get to spend my days making food for others, that I learn something new every day, that I get to be creative and work with people I genuinely like – I just love every single moment. Possibly my enthusiasm for even the most mundane tasks will wane over time but I sincerely hope not because, honestly, I’m living the dream. Yes, it’s a fairly exhausting, muscle aching, finger slicing dream, but it’s my dream and that’s the important thing.

Take these strawberry chocolate tuxedos, for example – I learned to make these sometime in my second week at work and I instantly fell in love, despite the fact that most of the others who have to make them find them a chore. I even have a deal going with one of the guys in the kitchen that every time I make them for a guest I have to make him one extra – I know he’s just waiting to see my enthusiasm wear thin but I don’t think it ever will… I mean: it’s a strawberry. Wearing a tuxedo. Made of chocolate. A strawberry wearing a tuxedo! I don’t need to say much more. And it’s so easy because you don’t need to temper the chocolate – all you need is a microwave, some chocolate, some strawberries and parchment paper. That’s it. Easy or what?

So the next time you need a special little something to end your evening on, something just a little more fantastic than chocolate dipped strawberries, whip out the chocolate, get yourself some strawberries and suit ’em up. You’re welcome.


Working 9-5: Wild Rice Salad


Team Feeder!

Since graduating a month ago (!) I’ve not stopped. Moving from stage to trial to private job, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind and, though I’m exhausted, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not the kind of person who can do nothing for long periods of time, instead choosing to fill my diary as full as I can, as many dinner dates, coffee dates, lunch dates, private jobs, stages as is physically possible. Of course the downside to this is that when I get sick I get really sick, a classic case of burning the candle at both ends, and recently this is exactly what’s happened to me.