Tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background? I am originally American but I moved to the UK when I was nine years old so London is more home than anywhere else. Food and travel are my two passions and this led me to study hospitality management in university at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland. As a young girl, I always loved baking but this generally consisted of packaged brownie mixes and chocolate chip cookies. How I’ve moved on since then!
What and why did you choose to study at Le Cordon Bleu London? I had previous culinary experience but I wanted to build on my foundation and learn a wider array of classic French pastry techniques. I dreamt of doing something entrepreneurial with pastry and knew that Le Cordon Bleu would give me a solid foundation for a career in food and the tools to succeed in the industry, whether it be in the kitchen or not. Furthermore, I previously worked for alumna Peggy Porschen and she always spoke highly of her experience at Le Cordon Bleu so this encouraged me to pursue my passion. I then completed the Diplôme de Pâtisserie in June 2017.
Did you have any previous culinary experience before joining the course? Yes, I worked in the pastry kitchen at the five star Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme. The restaurant earned its first Michelin star while I was working there so this was a big thrill. I was responsible for all of the room service desserts at the hotel and seemingly endless mise en place for the gastronomic restaurant. Later, I worked sales and marketing in London for both Peggy Porschen Cakes and Pierre Hermé Paris. I think the experience I gained in both the kitchen and office has helped shape my business for the better.
As soon as I tell partners and guests that I studied at Le Cordon Bleu, it opens doors and instils confidence.
What made you decide to start Sweet Tooth Tours and how did you develop it? After working at Peggy Porschen and Pierre Hermé Paris and completing my pastry diploma, I launched Sweet Tooth Tours in July 2017. The concept is small group walking tours to London’s best independent bakeries, gelaterias, chocolate shops, cheesemongers and more. Of course tasting samples are included!
With an increasing interest in British baking, I saw a gap in the market for pastry experiences and alternatives to a traditional high tea. Using my newly acquired pastry knowledge from Le Cordon Bleu and contacts in the industry from previous work experience, I approached many ‘sweet spots’ to see if they would be interested in being a part of the tour. I have since built up great relationships with the stores and am pleased to be working with them. Of course a lot of taste testing was required first! Luckily The Guardian, Town & Country, Lonely Planet, Condé Nast Traveller and other publications have recommended Sweet Tooth Tours so that has helped the business grow quickly.
What were your favourite moments at Le Cordon Bleu London? Few things felt better than really mastering a new skill. I really struggled with tempering chocolate and shaping a rose from marzipan but once I achieved these I was so proud! Teamwork in the kitchen is essential and seeing everyone and everything come together was always so satisfying. Along those lines, the completion of Afternoon Tea (superior student event) would have to be a highlight of my time at Le Cordon Bleu. Just seeing the trollies upon trollies of cakes we made felt like nothing short of a miracle!
How did your culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu help you set up your business? Firstly, it gave me greater credibility. As soon as I tell partners and guests that I studied at Le Cordon Bleu, it opens doors and instils confidence.
But beyond that, it gave me knowledge. On the tours I always like to add stories about how the desserts are made or fun little facts like the history of the ice cream cone. Guests enjoy hearing about my disastrous lemon tart or successful éclairs and what was the secret to their success (or failure). Thanks to my culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu I can explain with ease the secrets to a flaky croissant, crisp macaron or even how chocolate is made.
If you had to give advice to a new student, what would it be? Enjoy every minute and use common sense! It’s so easy to get stressed in the kitchen. Stay organised, keep your work station clean, communicate and don’t let the pressure get to you.
What is your next step? I have just launched a new tour route around Soho and the Café Le Cordon Bleu is one of the stops!
Next, I want to offer more options for hands-on interactive experiences. I’m increasingly receiving requests for team building activities, client entertaining and special celebrations. I often offer a scone baking class as part of a British-themed tour and want to increase the options along these lines.
Hopefully in the near future you will also see Sweet Tooth Tours in more cities across Europe and beyond!