With a clear goal to run her own business from the outset, Matilda Smith needed to ensure she was armed with all the right tools and knowledge to succeed in Melbourne's competitive hospitality industry.
“I worked in hospitality while I put myself through university and it was actually my mum who pointed out that I should turn my passion into a fulltime career,” she says.
“I immediately knew I wanted to study Le Cordon Bleu Melbourne’s pâtisserie program because of the reputation the school upheld, not just in Australia but the world over.”
After graduating in 2012, the passionate foodie was well and truly on a mission to bring French flair to the streets of Victoria.
She built up her experience by working in establishments across Melbourne and Sydney before heading home in 2016 to open pâtisserie Penny for Pound with her partner Ben.
They started out as a two-man band, with early mornings and long hours spent in the kitchen rolling croissants and baking cakes.
But it wasn’t long before Penny for Pound became a regular haunt for Richmond locals and from there, one pâtisserie turned into three.
“From our first little shop in the backstreets of Richmond, we’ve not got three Penny for Pound venues in Richmond, Camberwell and our headquarters in Moorabbin, and we’ve just launched another shop called Holla Gelato,” she says.
With two kids in tow, Matilda has taken a step away from the kitchen and now runs the business as creative director. She is responsible for managing her teams, creating new menus and specials, designing packaging, new store rollouts, branding and everything in between.
“It’s nice to give back a little bit...we’ve actually got a couple of people who started with us as industry placement students who are now full-time employees and valued members of the team, so it’s nice to come full circle.”
She values her time at Le Cordon Bleu and says it’s a large part of her hospitality journey.
“Le Cordon Bleu gave me a really great foundation in all areas of French pastry. It was really important for me to become a well-rounded pastry chef and Le Cordon Bleu gave me exactly that,” she says.
“The thing I really found useful was the six-month placement which I did in Sydney. I learned not just the pastry side of things but working to deadlines, having a sense of urgency – all those things that potential employers are looking for in a staff member."
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