After graduating with a Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu London, Anna Krasovskaia created her very own confectionary studio, wrote an award-winning book and is working on opening her very own café in Russia. In this interview, Anna tells us how it was like studying at Le Cordon Bleu, her passion for food and her future plans.
Tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background?
My name is Anna, I live in Saint Petersburg, Russia. I have a degree in economics and linguistics. Before I started baking, I used to work as PR manager in a large joint-stock company.
I have been a professional baker for more than 9 years. During this time, I created my own confectionary studio, wrote a book, Fashion Cakes, which won an award at the Gourmand Cookbook, and made hundreds of cakes for celebrities all over the world. Currently, I’m getting ready to open my first café in Saint Petersburg.
How did your passion for food start?
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved baking. I made my first edible cake when I was 6 years old. When I was at primary school I baked cakes for every school party. When I grew up I made cakes as presents for my relatives and friends, for every celebration and holiday. I was delighted in people's joy after they tasted my cake or pastry and this inspired me.
II needed a foundation on which to build my patisserie skills and knowledge
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in the culinary arts?
I have always been someone who enjoys reading culinary books, watching special TV shows, visiting exhibitions and master-classes. One day, my sister asked me to make a cake for a mutual friend. When our friend received her present she told me: "Anna, you have a talent for cake baking! God gave you such a talent and if you don’t use it you will be punished”.
I was highly impressed by these words. The more I thought about it, the more I understood that she was right. I decided to quit my day job and go to work in any restaurant in the patisserie department.
As time passed, I understood more clearly that my passion for baking was getting stronger, and that I needed a foundation on which to build my patisserie skills and knowledge.
When I asked my friends in the industry about the best place to get a pastry education, all of them recommended Le Cordon Bleu. I read a lot about the Le Cordon Bleu experience from famous Russian chefs' blogs, and I was inspired that Le Cordon Bleu chefs from the finest kitchens and Michelin-starred restaurants pass on their knowledge and experience daily to their students. I wanted to become a part of that great tradition of excellence
Why did you decide to study the Diplome de Pâtisserie?
By the time I applied at Le Cordon Bleu, I already had my own pastry business, but I lacked sufficient knowledge in general French pastry techniques - how ingredients interact which each other, why we should do things in certain order and how to organise teamwork.
How did the qualification you received help you in your career?
Immediately upon returning from London, I opened a production site following all the rules learnt at the institute. The kitchen experience I gained was invaluable, bringing cleanliness, timing and technical equipment to a world-class level. The teamwork and leadership experience helped me to attract and motivate stellar assistants, allowing me to step back from the day-to-day routine. I approached developing new deserts in a more effective way, I knew what basic rules I need to follow and which steps to take in more creative ways. And the knowledge of how different ingredients worked gave me confidence to correct some mistakes I had made back when I was less-informed.
Any specific memories of your studies at Le Cordon Bleu London?
The strict rules regarding tidiness and timing were a surprise to me, but they are now second nature.
The Afternoon Tea experience in Superior level where all students worked together and everyone was responsible for the result was a great lesson to me. Also, London is a unique place to try all kinds of Afternoon Teas outside of the institute, so I tried multiple places, and even made a blog comparing the most special Afternoon Tea locations.
And of course, the desserts we prepared while studying were not wasted, we donated them to charities and made many new friends.
What are your plans for the future?
Last year I published a book, Fashion Cakes, which won in the Desserts and Pastry Best in the World category of the Gourmand Cookbook Awards international contest. It was a tough competition with books by 22 authors from different countries. Currently, the book is only published in Russian, so we are working on an English version.
I also hope to open my patisserie soon. It will be in a contemporary building within the historical centre of Saint Petersburg. The 120 square meters location will include an open cake decoration studio, a production site and a small café. I also give master-classes, showcasing my sugar paste technique, and I plan to expand the master-classes to different countries. My dream is to share my experience with Le Cordon Bleu students, as I know how important it is to have teachers with real work experience to share their knowledge. I was lucky to have these of teachers at Le Cordon Bleu.
Do you have any advice for people who want to follow in your footsteps?
Try not just to do, but to understand what you're doing. Don't be afraid of mistakes - you'll make them anyway. It's important to learn from mistakes, so each will help you improve.
In the early stages, don't feel shy to copy professionals and ask questions. Your own style will come with time.
Look for inspiration on the edge of different fields. My most acclaimed project was Fashion Cakes, connecting fashion and cakes.