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UK Pastry Chefs


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#1 petrus

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 09:00 AM

I have always regarded pastry chefs as the unsung heroes of the professional kitchen in this country.

Are there any that seem to have star quality (now that Claire Clark has moved to the US)?


Petrus

#2 MoGa

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 09:14 AM

I have always regarded pastry chefs as the unsung heroes of the professional kitchen in this country.

Are there any that seem to have star quality (now that Claire Clark has moved to the US)?


Petrus

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My favourite is William Curley (Richmond). I got a real taste for the patisserie in Tokyo and Mr Curley satisfies this beautifully with his own wonderful creations.

#3 sunbeam

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 09:16 AM

I have always regarded pastry chefs as the unsung heroes of the professional kitchen in this country.

Are there any that seem to have star quality (now that Claire Clark has moved to the US)?


Petrus

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You're right, far too few of 'em about. The chap at the Wolseley does a mean bit of Viennoiserie although I am normally too stuffed with 'full English' to do his work justice. Every time I go I have a doomed plan to just eat some healthy cereal and then a bit of pastry. And every time I instead find myself ordering the artery buster special and later being helped into a cab so I can get to the office to sleep it off.

Anyway, The Wolseley.

S

#4 Culinista

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 09:57 AM

I saw a Japanese female pastry chef from the Lanesborough whose name escapes me now presenting at Madrid Fusion. (I believe she had trained in France previously.) Her creations looked worth checking out.

William Curley's wife is Japanese also, and so is the pastry chef at Gordon Ramsey HR.

A trend?

Edited by Culinista, 30 April 2008 - 09:58 AM.


#5 Jon Tseng

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 01:35 PM

mebbe

last time i was at RHR (over a yr ago) the pastry chef was a young japanese (i think) lady. apparently she had joined them from the cordon bleu and worked her way up...
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#6 Scott

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 05:00 AM

one of the problems of the london restaurant industry is that there aren't any.

there is so few of them, and they get no recognition. they command high premiums.

the system in that regard is a teensy bit broken
A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

#7 MoGa

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 05:03 AM

Incidentally, as it's vaguely on-topic...

If anyone is curious about Japanese bakery items (not patisserie items), the Japan Centre at 213 Piccadilly has just opened a bakery section with a variety of Japanese choices. (On the left hand side, past the cashiers and crockery, a selection of baskets against the wall)

These go quickly, so by the evening the remaining selection is meagre or non-existent, but if you ever wanted to try classics such as melon-pan, at least once, this is the place.

#8 Fibilou

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 06:24 AM

there is so few of them, and they get no recognition. they command high premiums. 

I was a pastry chef for 4 years down in Sussex, have had 8 years out and am looking to get back into it. For a job which is apparently desperately underskilled adn understaffed I can't find any work within a 30 mile radius of my home apart from the job I left in 1999 which they have never managed to fill permanently ! It's very frustrating.

Edited by Fibilou, 01 May 2008 - 06:26 AM.

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#9 ravelda

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:30 AM

there is so few of them, and they get no recognition. they command high premiums. 

I was a pastry chef for 4 years down in Sussex, have had 8 years out and am looking to get back into it. For a job which is apparently desperately underskilled adn understaffed I can't find any work within a 30 mile radius of my home apart from the job I left in 1999 which they have never managed to fill permanently ! It's very frustrating.

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If you are ever looking for a job in London in Pastry please drop me a line - we would be very keen to have a strong team in pastry. Don;t get me wrong we have good people now, but as mentioned up-thread, getting real top level quality people in pastry is pretty tricky!
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#10 petrus

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 10:34 AM

there is so few of them, and they get no recognition. they command high premiums. 

I was a pastry chef for 4 years down in Sussex, have had 8 years out and am looking to get back into it. For a job which is apparently desperately underskilled adn understaffed I can't find any work within a 30 mile radius of my home apart from the job I left in 1999 which they have never managed to fill permanently ! It's very frustrating.

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I think this goes to show that such people are under valued. One reason maybe that the majority are female (whoops!). Others are they have no strong professional grouping and that there is a supply of "ready made" desserts that can be bought in.

Petrus

PS: Liked the blog & having watched the GB Menu programme to-night, you are needed!

Edited by petrus, 01 May 2008 - 11:16 AM.


#11 Jon Tseng

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 02:33 PM

I think this goes to show that such people are under valued. One  reason maybe that the  majority are female (whoops!). Others are they have no strong professional grouping and that there is a supply  of "ready made" desserts that can be bought in.

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basically the issue is zero culture of patisserie in this town, particularly outside of restos. france is the object lesson - masses of patissiers (as opposed to boulangeries) everywhere. more decent pat (at all levels) than you can shake a stick at.

london in contrast has a microcosm at the high end (wm curley, sketch, laduree maybe, yauatach although thats debatable) then theres a yawning gulf til you get to the lower mid-range chains (pat val, berthold, paul).

culturally the issue is that cakes and puddings are more a homely/homebake thing in this country. can't think of many distinctively english sweets off the top of my head which ppl wouldn't do themselves (hot cross buns maybe?). contrast that to paris - doubt the average french housewife makes paris-brest or croquembouche very often when she can nip out to the local pat and buy one...

J
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#12 Fibilou

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 03:55 AM

Update - I have signed up with an agency who hopefully might find something for me
Jon, I entirely agree with you. I trained under a French patissier adn have a real passion for french patisserie. My fanstasy would be to open a French style patisserie/boulangerie, but I know it would fail because I just don't think there is the market for it. It's a shame, but everyone here seems to prefer cheap, crappy, dry cakes filled with fake buttercream and splodge rather than the more sophisticated offerings. Or even just plain old stuff like DECENT pain au chocolat or chouquettes (yum yum)

And Petrus, glad you enjoyed the blog :wub:

Edited by Fibilou, 02 May 2008 - 03:58 AM.

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#13 Roger le goéland

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 05:49 PM

I'm sure that if they were priced at the same level as the crappy English offerings (you know how cheap baguettes etc. are in France!) and that was very clear to the customers, you would find your shop full in no time. So long as they're not paying a premium for the extra quality...

Considering one pays 70p for a baguette in Sainsbury's (£1.10 for the decent one) against the equivalent of 30p in the village where I come from, I am sure you could sell better stuff for the same amount or cheaper. Imagine what Roux felt like when he came to London to open Le Gavroche - "those English, they will eat anything. No taste buds or what?" and then he educated them.

It's a constant conversation wherever I meet French people here - "if our bakers set up shop on this island they would make a fortune in no time." Please at least try! (and preferably in Cambridge :P)

#14 alex chef

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 02:47 PM

I tend to agree with a lot of the comments here. I spent 4 years as pastry chef at a 1* restaurant and got little in the way of recognition, probably because it wasn't in London.
I have recently looked in to opening a 'proper' patisserie in Sheffield but have so far been put off by high rents and a lack of skilled labour in the area. Also the general public seem more than happy to put up with the avarage quality stuff churned out by Delice de france and the like as apposed to the true artisan product that, yes, you probably will have to pay a bit more for, but it is worth it!

#15 marc at fraiche

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 03:53 PM

I tend to agree with a lot of the comments here. I spent 4 years as pastry chef at a 1* restaurant and got little in the way of recognition, probably because it wasn't in London.
I have recently looked in to opening a 'proper' patisserie in Sheffield but have so far been put off by high rents and a lack of skilled labour in the area. Also the general public seem more than happy to put up with the avarage quality stuff churned out by Delice de france and the like as apposed to the true artisan product that, yes, you probably will have to pay a bit more for, but it is worth it!

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this is so true for merseyside also, im looking to open a pastry led place which may double as a dessert restaurant at night inspired by my time in toronto where i use to frequent such a place and not to mention epai sucre but its a minefield, units aren`t so much the problem unless you set up in the centre of liverpool then you need the backing of a footballer who seem to sprouting up places across town.
the main issue here is the lack of skilled professionals to offer quality retail and plated desserts, and for cheese good god its an artisan free zone, :sad:
but perhaps if we sold cheese and onion pasties on the hoof we may survive :wink:

#16 erica graham

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 04:19 PM

:biggrin: I'm happy to report that here in the cotswolds, they can't buy enough of our breads etc that we make each day for the deli, even though they are twice the price of thr delice stuff over the road in the co-op! Ditto for Artisan cheeses (sorry Marc) which we have coming out our ears! However, finding well trained pastry chefs is like looking for hens teeth, and the bakery shift in the restaurant is about as popular as, well, a turd in the bath! Hubbie has now got packing cases under the bags under his eyes!!!!!!! :wacko:
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#17 Jon Tseng

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:33 PM

I suspect the solution is to shop abroad.

Interesting that when Macaron opened in London a couple of years back (not a great pat, I hasten to add but better than nothing) the pastry chef was from France.

J
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#18 confiseur

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 03:21 AM

The reasons that there are so good few pastry chefs in the UK is that generally the salarys on offer are crap and their is no recognition of the pc as a craftsman in their own right.
When I worked as a Pastrychef in Switzerland in hotels/restaurants I was more often than not paid more than the Exec. Chef.. This would be unthinkable in Britain where the pastry chef is seen as 'just another chef-de-partie' on the same level as the veg or larder chef.

#19 chefsimon

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 03:44 AM

The reasons that there are so good few pastry chefs in the UK is that generally the salarys on offer are crap and their is no recognition of the pc as a craftsman in their own right.
When I  worked as a Pastrychef in Switzerland in hotels/restaurants I was more often than not paid more than the Exec. Chef.. This would be unthinkable in Britain where the pastry chef is seen as 'just another chef-de-partie' on the same level as the veg or larder chef.

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Maybe we should all go to Switzerland to be pastry chefs!Some places maybe the pastry chef is regarded as another cdp, but definatly not everywhere!
There is only a certain level of restaurant upwards that really needs a dedicated pastry chef, i know a lot of pastry chefs that get paid very well indeed, it is also very important that all members of a kitchen team should gain a pastry knowledge, which happens very rarely these days! it is also important pastry chefs should realise how the kitchen side of things work also, so there is not that divide in the team wwhich can happen quite often between pastry and the main kitchen

#20 petrus

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 09:31 AM

[Maybe we should all go to Switzerland to be pastry chefs!Some places maybe the pastry chef is regarded as another cdp, but definatly not everywhere!
There is only a certain level of restaurant upwards that really needs a dedicated pastry chef, i know a lot of pastry chefs that get paid very well indeed, it is also very important that all members of a kitchen team should gain a pastry knowledge, which happens very rarely these days! it is also important pastry chefs should realise how the kitchen side of things work also, so there is not that divide in the team wwhich can happen quite often between pastry and the main kitchen

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<snip>

I think the last two posts focus on the main issue, which is how pastry chefs are regarded and treated within the industry (not how easy is it to set up a high street patisserie business). Maybe they need their own trade body or sub-group.

Petrus

#21 Fibilou

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 06:41 AM

I tend to agree with a lot of the comments here. I spent 4 years as pastry chef at a 1* restaurant and got little in the way of recognition, probably because it wasn't in London.
I have recently looked in to opening a 'proper' patisserie in Sheffield but have so far been put off by high rents and a lack of skilled labour in the area. Also the general public seem more than happy to put up with the avarage quality stuff churned out by Delice de france and the like as apposed to the true artisan product that, yes, you probably will have to pay a bit more for, but it is worth it!

View Post


this is so true for merseyside also, im looking to open a pastry led place which may double as a dessert restaurant at night inspired by my time in toronto where i use to frequent such a place and not to mention epai sucre but its a minefield, units aren`t so much the problem unless you set up in the centre of liverpool then you need the backing of a footballer who seem to sprouting up places across town.
the main issue here is the lack of skilled professionals to offer quality retail and plated desserts, and for cheese good god its an artisan free zone, :sad:
but perhaps if we sold cheese and onion pasties on the hoof we may survive :wink:

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Marc, is it a long commute from Eastbourne to the Wirral ? :biggrin:
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#22 Fibilou

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 06:47 AM

The reasons that there are so good few pastry chefs in the UK is that generally the salarys on offer are crap and their is no recognition of the pc as a craftsman in their own right.

Quite. I currently earn £19k in an office job which doesn't really require a lot of skill apart from supporting the police bureaucracy. It's 9-5 weekends off. What are the chances of me getting the same pay and working conditions back on the pastry section, a job which requires considerably more skill, application and hard work. Or even a decent recompense for working unsocial hours ?

Hmmm, just about a big fat No Chance !

Edited by Fibilou, 05 May 2008 - 06:48 AM.

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#23 Fibilou

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 06:52 AM

Having looked through the nationwide adverts on Caterer I was really saddened by what has clearly happened in the last 8 years.

When I first started out there were 5 full time patissiers working on my section, under a (git of a) fellow who had about 25 years' experience. He was paid the same as the senior sous chef and accorded the same respect. We had a CDP, demi and us two commis.
By the time I left there was me as CDP basically acting head pastry chef because they couldn't get one, a commis and an apprentice. That was in the space of 4.5 years.

Now I see adverts that say

"Pastry chef urgently required for 3 rosette restaurant. 2 years experience at this level would be advantageous"

Advantageous ? :blink: What is going on ?
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#24 Big Bud

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 09:09 AM

Read this topic and thought I might find out about some new and exciting pastry chefs. Instead no one has really named any new pastry chefs working in good restaurants in the UK. So here goes Gordon Gray at my restaurant. I am biased because I am a big fan obviously, but someone had to start it off. Great breads and desserts. Simple, clean flavour combinations with solid technique. I am very lucky to have him working with me, with pedigree of glenegles, vineyard and Micheal Caines. Gordon has total dedication to his craft as a pastry chef. Well there you go who's next to plug there own pastry chef? :biggrin:

#25 chefsimon

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 10:19 AM

Read this topic and thought I might find out about some new and exciting pastry chefs. Instead no one has really named any new pastry chefs working in good restaurants in the UK. So here goes Gordon Gray at my restaurant. I am biased because I am a big fan obviously, but someone had to start it off. Great breads and desserts. Simple, clean flavour combinations with solid technique. I am very lucky to have him working with me, with pedigree of glenegles, vineyard and Micheal Caines. Gordon has total dedication to his craft as a pastry chef. Well there you go who's next to plug there own pastry chef? :biggrin:

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And your restaurant is ?

#26 Big Bud

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 02:25 PM

Sorry I didn't say. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw

#27 petrus

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 12:46 PM

Our local restaurant (Trinity in Clapham London SW) has a pastry chef with a very pleasing style, though I sense she is working with limited ingredients (or a limited budget). The desserts at the old Putney Bridge restaruant were very impressive; I do not know if the pastry chef has moved to Arbutus. In neither case do I know the name of the pastry chefs concerned.

Petrus

#28 confiseur

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 09:35 AM

ok then..my 2 pence worth..

In the Sarf of England..Tony Hoyle at The Grove and Thierry Besselievre ( worked at a few of GR's places) are pretty good...

Unsung hero's abroad ( certainly far better than the hugely over-rated Miss Clarke of the French Laundry, Wolsely and er.. Hilton Edgeware Road )
are Julian Hutchings ,ex Oriental Hotel Bangkok, now in Shanghai and Martin Chiffers, ex Raffles Singapore now in Seoul.

#29 petrus

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 01:04 AM

I think Tony Hoyle used to be at the Dorchester. Is Thierry Besselievre still within the GR empire or has he moved on? I have eated Martin Chiffers' desserts when he was at that hotel near Liverpool Street station; they were very impressive.


Petrus

#30 chefmatt

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 02:49 AM

lets put a spanner in the works! firstly pastry chefs in this country can get paid a considerable amount of money (£30k-70k if not more if you are at the very top) certainly at michelin level and have the power to negotiate good deals regarding hours and so on as most (not all) the skill is in the mise en place and construction of desserts so if they train their staff well there is not a necessity to oversee service.

But what i really want to say is that it is very rare that i have come across a pastry chef that cooks what you want them to cook. Head chefs know more about a complete meal than someone who specialises in one aspect of cooking. I have always loved the simple yet perfect constructions of many of the three star chefs in paris and of marco's in the old days. you don't want too much to think about at the end of the meal it just gets tiring, what you do want to be is stunned with the look of the dessert and the flavour. I am always more stunned by something simple and perfect than a load of redundent sugar work, foams and uneccessary mousses even if there are all in perfect quenelles.

there are of course exceptions to this rule and i am talking from my experience, don't all you pastry chefs out there get your knickers in a twist!

one of the best pastry chefs i ever worked with listed his favourite desserts as tarte fine aux pommes and strawberry sable and although frustrating in many other ways it was nice to be on the same wavelength. he is sadly no longer with us and will be sadly missed.

Big bud, you are very lucky to have someone you can relate to, this for me is one of the most important parts of the pastry - head chef relationship.

anyway i know it is a bit rambling and i will probably add more later

matt
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