Following last week's announcement of the death of Professor John Huber, Caterer and Hotelkeeper has been inundated with tributes to the man who transformed the teaching of pastry within the UK. Janet Harmer reports
For more than 30 years at what was then known as Thames Valley University (TVU) in Slough, Professor John Huber was at the helm of a revolution in the teaching of pastry in the UK.
Until his retirement as course director, advanced courses, in 1998, he worked tirelessly in creating a credible and widely recognised means of pastry education in the UK, where nothing previously existed. Huber's unique teaching style, combining a passion for his craft with a wicked sense of humour, inspired thousands of young chefs.
Using as a role model the Swiss National Diploma for pâtissiers, confiseurs, glaciers - which, as a Swiss national, he himself studied - Huber put together the first two-year, day-release advanced pastry course, which led to the launch of the 706/3 pastry and 706/3 advanced pastry courses. The courses were swiftly adopted by 30 colleges in the UK and three in Ireland.
Later in his career, Huber was instrumental in setting up TVU's Advanced Diploma in Culinary Arts (pastry) and was duly recognised for his achievements by becoming the first pastry cook to be installed as a professor. "It was a very proud moment," he said at the time. "It proved at last that pastry chefs were no longer second-class citizens."
For a more detailed obituary of John Huber, go to www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/johnhuber
JOHN HUBER TRIBUTES
John Huber was a legend and champion for pastry chefs. I had the pleasure of being taught by him for two years in Slough. He was a very humble and funny man.
Tony Hoyle, resort executive pastry chef, Madinat Jumeirah - the Arabian Resort, Dubai, UAE
My brother's dedication in his support of UK's future culinary experts including SkillsUK and Worldskills competitions motivated me to become involved with the National Precision Machining Technology Competition at the SkillUSA championship in support of our future metalworkers in the USA.
Paul Huber, brother, Connecticut, USA
John was the most genuine man who cared deeply about the training of young people, both throughout his career and during the whole of his retirement. He was the font of all knowledge and was the first person I turned to for advice when I was writing my book. There was no nicer person in the industry.
William Curley, pâtissier and chocolatier
John brought pastry to this country. He was unique and a true master in his field. He did so much for the UK and thousands of young people.
Michel Roux Snr
John was the most remarkable teacher: he nurtured, raised and supported me, imparting his knowledge unconditionally. It was never about himself, only about us, his students. He forgot it was him who made us the pastry chefs we all are today.
Claire Clark, pastry chef and consultant
John Huber was a true professional; a lovely man who gave so much back. The industry has lost a very good friend and an extremely knowledgeable and talented chef. As a judge, he marked fairly and wisely and debriefed with an acute understanding of the competitors and the subject. He always left them with a greater knowledge of technical ability.
Peter Griffiths, salon director, Hotelympia and Hospitality
John was a versatile, open-minded, experienced pastry chef who on turning to education became probably the finest lecturer in his subject that we have had the privilege of enjoying. With his ready smile, he was always pleased to share his considerable experience and knowledge, not only with students but also many of his colleagues in industry.
Victor Ceserani, former head of School of Hotelkeeping and Catering, Ealing College of Higher Education
I knew John for over 35 years and we had some fantastic times together. He was the consummate professional and a rock, who really enjoyed imparting his knowledge through his teaching. It is important we celebrate his life and I hope to help organise a party in the summer during which we reflect on John as a person.
Richard Shepherd, honorary president, Academy of Culinary Arts
John Huber did a marvellous job of inspiring young people to take up a career in pastry. He was instrumental in raising the profile of pastry in this country and it is partly because of him that we were able to claim the role of pastry chef in the UK's professional kitchens from the Europeans; he was, quite simply the most creative pastry chef that I've ever known.
Anton Mosimann, proprietor, Mosimann's, London