Lets start from the beginning. What made you fall in love with Baking?
Baking was always therapeutic for me. If it was a long day at work, or an argument I needed to get over I’d shut myself away in my mums kitchen and bake something. It’s relaxing, and often mood lifting. I have also always been a person that enjoys the social side of life, and being British, a slice of cake and a cuppa is always a good catalyst for this.
Would you say you are more drawn towards Baking or Patisserie?
Hands down Patisserie. Now this is not a north/south divide type of situation. I love them both, they both intertwine. However, I am a Pastry Chef. I’m trained in Pastry first, so my love lies in Patisserie. It’s an art form like no other really, it involves every skill imaginable and with precision detail.
I like the finish of Patisserie. Patisserie takes into account the look just as much as the taste. It is essentially the theatre of the sweet world.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It may be a generic answer to say different cultures. But I've travelled a little in my life and certainly want to do more, and get so much inspiration from seeing how other people live, eat, experience. It then broadens the spectrum of what you can do with your own skills.
Is there a link that runs through your new cake range and what can be expected from the future?
I like the range to somewhat mirror what we do in our menu. So we use spices that compliment the food we serve. I will always want the range to move forward, so the flavours will change, we will experiment but not shy away from doing what we do best. Being a pastry chef, it will always be on the cards to crack into desserts, so keep your eyes peeled
What do you think of the current state of baking in Birmingham, the city seems to have a real focus on bread and less on innovative new flavours - where would you like to see it go and how can it get there?
I don't think people experiment enough here yet, I think Birmingham has more than enough talent to do so but seem a little reluctant. What we have realised is that the public do want new things, they want to experiment and fall in love with something new and exciting. I'd like to see bakery taken more seriously. Places like Brighton are showing how it can be done with chocolatiers, cafes and patisseries like Julian Plumart; but I'd like to see Birmingham competing on that stage too.
If you could de-mystyfy one thing about baking what would it be and why?
That there are limits to it. They say baking is purely recipe based and there are general rules you need to stay inside. For instance, a standard recipe for a sponge would be equal parts flour, sugar and butter. However if you wanted to make a richer but slightly denser sponge, you could add cream, but with this you would need to decrease the butter amount and melt it so it doesn’t counteract with the fats in the cream. We wouldn’t have discovered this if someone hadn’t taken a risk and broken the rules of a standard sponge a little. So you can experiment, and it isn’t going to change the face of baking, just broaden the parameters. Talent lies in knowledge and with any skill, learning is an element that should never end.
Do you have any industry heroes?
Pierre Herme - He has taken luxury and ‘The Macaron’ to a whole different level.
If you could invite 6 people over to dinner living or dead, who would they be and what would you cook?
Pierre Herme, Marilyn Monroe, Raymond Blanc, William Blake, Napoleon Bonaparte, Katherine Hepburn. I think instead of trying to please, I would cook them something Italian, seafood, followed by desserts full of fruit, flavoured creams and meringues. All of my favourite things, so I could get a little insight into what these well respected people in my life think of what I love.