Week 27 – London (again) part two

My second week in London has been a great experience. At E5 I was able to help out on three bake shifts – undoubtedly the most satisfying shift. It’s a brilliant feeling unloading freshly baked bread in front of customers and loading it straight on to the shelves for them to buy. Things got quite busy on Friday when we had a few special orders, bakery experiments and even some lasagne to bake off in the oven. I felt like I’d made lots of progress when I managed to balance the ovens and get all the bread out in reasonably good time and fashion. I really enjoyed my two weeks at E5 Bakehouse and found it to be more rewarding than my previous placement – mostly because E5 is much closer to the ideal bakery I have in my head than The Artisan Bakery was.

One of the nice things about working at E5 has been the range of bakers and chefs I have met during my short stay. It seems like everyone is clambering to get experience making bread at the bakehouse and as a result, every day there is a different pastry chef, baker or volunteer in the bakery. One of the guys I worked with is the pastry chef at Workshop Coffee, a really swish coffee roaster/cafe/restaurant. He invited me to check out the kitchen there and I’m very glad I did. They have done an amazing job at fitting out the cafe and restaurant area, really making the most of putting their little coffee roaster on display. The kitchens were also an eye-opener, as they are split over three floors. The poor pastry chef told me a few stories of dropping trays of cakes down the stairs. What a nightmare!

Tuesday was the highlight of my week by a mile. After my shift at E5 I made my way to Harrods, via Bea’s of Bloomsbury¬†for a quick cake stop, for Rachel Khoo‘s book signing. I’d never been to Harrods before and I’m not sure if I’ll go back without a very good reason. The place is a maze of very expensive products surrounded by hoards of tourists. I got there a little early and ended up having to sit in the garden seating section for about thirty minutes, feeling a bit like a mannequin. I’m very surprised I didn’t get asked to move on. After a bit more waiting Rachel appeared in front a crowd of about 150 people. She was scheduled to give a demo, making some savoury choux pastry blobs, but when that started going a bit pear-shaped she decided to give it a miss and head straight into signing books. I have a feeling it may have been Rachel’s first public cooking appearance and think that she handled the pastry issue very well. Most people were there to get a book signed, so I don’t think anyone really minded that the demo was cut short. After an hour-long wait in a very lengthy line I finally managed to meet Rachel and have my book signed. She seemed like a very vibrant and lovely woman and I’m amazed at how far she has come from the very simple beginnings of running a restaurant from her home in Paris.

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