There I stood whisking a bubbling pot of caramel over a huge iron top stove. My face feeling hotter than the thermometer can measure and as red as the mercury rising up through its numbers. I can’t escape what happens next or my caramel will burn and the whole kitchen will shout “Black Jack”, I tenaciously continue whisking. He cooly walks over and stands towering above me, a dead and beautifully coloured pheasant slung over his shoulder, ready for him to pluck and prepare. Apart from the obvious I wouldn’t mind being in the same position as that pheasant, draped over his shoulder so elegantly. He asks in his deep Italian accent, rolling the “RRR’s” off his tongue with a snake like rattle “Hey, red girl…Why are you so red?” Excellent stuff, the Sous Chef isn’t shouting at me for once and he knows my name….oh no wait!
So that was how it was, I blushed my way through kitchens since I left school and I never won the affection of my Sous Chef with my red face. I was always red, whether it was as I clambered off my bike in the morning or each time my Chef asked “Who made this?”. Not the endearing type of blush, the kind where you resemble a blotchy Tomato and feel like you have sunburn from the neck upwards, I wear a lot of scarves. All I can say is I do still blush from time time, people get used to it though and so did I.
I started my first job as a Commis Chef in a gastro pub. I was working as a waitress and managed to persuade my head chef to give me a chance in the kitchen. I was so keen to learn and despite the lumps of gelatine I sent out in the tiramisu, he gave me a job (Thank you Trevor!). I cleaned deep fat fryers and fridges, peeled bags of potatoes, chopped vegetables and occasionally my fingers. I soon realised I loved baking and went to work in a small bakery. After a couple of years I moved to London. Here I worked for Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche as a Pastry Chef. This was fantastic and I have huge respect for him. I then enrolled on a Patisserie Course at Le Cordon Bleu to obtain some formal training and I loved it. Following that, I started working as a Baker in a well known Wedding cake shop in London, Peggy Porschen, and eventually worked my way up to became the Head chef.
I have now started my own cake business and am using all the experience from the past years to create cakes I love.
As Julia childs so rightly said “ no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing”.