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    Paul Rhodes

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    CRUSH CHATS TO Paul Rhodes

    We catch up with Michelin star chef-turned-baker Paul Rhodes

    Three Michelin stars and experience running three of London’s finest restaurants – why the change to baking?

    I think it was my destiny… 22 years ago, Koffmann said to me you should be a f***ing baker, of course, in the finest sexy English/French accent, which at the time I took as a massive insult as I wanted to be a head chef and why I was busting a gut out working and learning from him.

    Did your stint at Borough Market inspire you any particular way or help guide you to your business today?

    Borough helped to develop and trial exciting new products and to get first hand feedback from our customers; it was also influential in my decision to open Paul Rhodes Bakery, my first retail shop in Greenwich. Interaction and feedback with the end customer is a great asset for any producer.

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    You started in one small room with a mixer and an oven – was it a long road to success and expanding to where you are now?

    Business is business, it really doesn’t matter what you sell, and it takes a long time, lots of hard graft, patience and a sprinkle of luck to succeed and to build a solid foundation to build any business on.

    What is it about making handcrafted breads & cakes that lights your passion?

    Creating something that looks beautiful is an art; it’s the satisfaction you get from creating something that doesn’t only look amazing but smells amazing, the icing on the cake (please mind the pun) is then when someone tells you how amazing it tastes too.

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    You bake directly on the base of the oven rather than on trays – is this so that you get a more perfect crust or is it for the flavour?

    The bread reacts much better from the direct heat from the stone, giving a crunchier texture to the crust which in turn gives a fantastic flavour. So, to answer your question – both, a perfect crust and a better flavour.

    Why do you use flour imported from France?

    I was taught by the master (Koffmann) about using French flour and from my experience over the years subsequently, it does give the best results.

    You have recently opened another shop in Notting Hill. Do you have plans to open more shops in London?

    Yes, this year we are expanding the main bakery site in Lassell Street from 5 000 to more than 20 000 square foot – this will be completed by the end of the year. So, once we have bedded in, we will start looking for additional retail sites. We are planning to do this in 2015.

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    Your range of pastries and cakes look absolutely mouth watering. Are you more passionate about the sweet treats or the breads?

    I love everything about baking and food in general but you can’t beat a good slice of cake.

    You, along with several other Michelin starred chefs, worked under Pierre Koffman – do you feel that you learnt at the feet of the guru? What was he like to work for?

    La Tanta Claire was known as the SAS of all kitchens in London, Koffman was the toughest taskmaster I have ever worked for, but the two years that I spent leaning from the master, were the most influential in my career; it gave me my strong backbone, which has supported me in whatever challenges were thrown in my way!

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    Pierre Koffman’s restaurants were known for serving the best bread. Do you remember the first time you baked bread in his kitchen?

    Like yesterday, firstly, you were extremely lucky for Koffmann to allow you to make the bread. There was a guy named Barry, Koffmann kind of adopted him, he’d been with Koffmann for several years but now and again naughty Barry had a few drinks too many and just wouldn’t show, it was my lucky break!

    There’s nothing better than seeing bread come to life for the first time!

    Three Michelin stars and experience running three of London’s finest restaurants – why the change to baking?

    I remember very well, having to remake a 10 inch lemon tart at school and mistakenly using salt instead of sugar – it turned out the best in the class but my family didn’t think so!

    Have you ever combined your skills as a chef and as a baker?

    Every day – with my determination, my drive for perfection, my eye for detail – this is what I believe gives me the edge over the other bakers in London.

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