Service with a smile 21 February 2020 Tom Kemble of the Pass at South Lodge cooks up a pumpkin masterclass and shares why it’s important for chefs to meet their customers
In this week's issue...Service with a smile Tom Kemble of the Pass at South Lodge cooks up a pumpkin masterclass and shares why it’s important for chefs to meet their customers
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The Caterer

How I got here

03 June 2004
How I got here

Thierry Tellier, 29, first got involved in the hospitality industry back in his native France due to a sweet tooth. "I have always loved bread, pastries and all the wonderful things I saw in the window of the bakers' shops in France." As traditional cooking wasn't what excited him, he became a pastry-confectioner's apprentice in 1998, working initially under Gehanin Bernard in St-Malo.

Having completed his apprenticeship he progressed to the position of head baker, taking a year out between 1992 and 1993 to complete military service. Tellier eventually realised he would need to broaden his horizons and tackle English if he was to progress. "I left school when I was very young and had never had the chance to learn English. I realised it was going to be very important to my career to learn the language sooner rather than later, so I made the move."

The move was to Conran Restaurants' Bluebird store in London during 1999. Tellier joined as a grade 2 baker in the store's bakery kitchen, and also worked as a pastry chef at Conran's Le Pont de la Tour restaurant.

So how do the two countries compare? "In France, if you are working in an artisan bakery, the work is very hard and it is difficult to progress. If you choose this career it is a choice for life; many bakers spend all their professional lives in the same bakery."

This, in Tellier's opinion, means that there are more opportunities to progress in the UK, but the downside is that there isn't the same level of passion about bread as there is in France.

For those keen to experience the French approach to baking, Tellier warns them to be ready for long hours and exacting standards. Alternatively, he suggests you could come and work for him and he'll speak nothing but French to you as compensation.

Having worked as head baker for the Capital hotel since 2001, Tellier went into partnership with Capital Group managing director Joe Levin in October 2003 to set up the bakery, which supplies breads and pastries to a number of London hotels and restaurants.

Tellier says he has really enjoyed creating the business and the contact with the customers that comes from it. It's been hard, but he believes he has learnt a great deal and enjoys the positive comments he receives about his breads. "On the negative side, I suppose I would say the extra stress of running a business and the crazy hours [his working day starts at midnight] can be a strain, but you have to lead by example, and I want everything to be right."

Career highlights
1988
Apprentice pastry chef/confectioner, St-Malo, France

1991
Becomes pastry chef, having completed training

1999
Grade 2 baker at the Bluebird store, London

2001
Head baker at the Capital hotel, London

2003
Sets up bakery business

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