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This weekend I finally found myself visiting Bageriet, a small Swedish bakery on Rose Street, Covent Garden which is run by a pastry chef that I previously worked with and a place that has been on my list for over two years now!

Daniel Karlsson was born in Sweden and won many accolades during his training and early years before coming to London and starting his career with the team at Ottolenghi. After some time there he joined my current employer, Melrose and Morgan and really expanded their range with his skill and expertise. Daniel is that rare thing in the food world…. a beautiful, calm, talented and industrious pastry chef. Now you would think this is not such a rare thing but believe me, as someone who is trying to find just such a person to be in that role at the moment. The lesser spotted pastry chef who wants to work the crazy hours, retain that sense of calm and beauty as well as creativity is hard to come by.

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I remember my early years at Melrose and Morgan, turning up one Sunday to get ahead with a Christmas project thinking that there was no one around to disturb me. I arrived to the sounds of classical music soaring through the air and was immediately offered breakfast from Daniel: a bowl of hot porridge and caramelised apples with the perfect balance of spices to bring out the flavour and sweetness. I left him to his Christmas baking and some 7 hours later, he quietly ascended the stairs to the office armed with a small tray bearing a simple slice of salted caramel chocolate tart because Daniel knew that this was a favourite flavour of mine, so he knocked it up after he had finished the Christmas cakes and brought it up with a cup of tea. What more need I say?

When he left to do his own thing, I wanted to help as much as possible just because people like him should be nurtured. I supported him in getting his stunning giant gingerbread houses into the department stores managing to use my contacts to get him in front of Harrods with no agenda other than to support this fabulous chef but sadly the management there couldn’t see beyond the meeting to understand just how valuable Daniel was and his seasonal creations did not make it to their shop floor. It was a big mistake in my opinion as they would have sold loads…. and differentiated their offer from all the other department stores in London. But it was not to be…more, I fear, because of my presence than Daniel himself.

Background pics from Bageriet website

Background pics from Bageriet website

Daniel subsequently asked me to write some copy for his website which I gladly did. I asked him where it all started and he said it was with his Grandma back in Sweden, and all those memories of being a child in the kitchen, as these pictures from his website show.

I was reminded of this conversation whilst I watched Chef’s Table – a Netflix series that L&B recommended and worth looking up if you are interested in chefs and their inspiration. The series covers 6 chefs and their story. Each is different but there is no doubt that their drive and passion for food generally comes from their upbringing and either their mother’s or grandmother’s influence (no pressure all you parents out there!). Massimo Bottura remembers running away from his siblings and hiding under the kitchen table where Nonna was making pasta, giving him a unique perspective above his head of that process which must have driven him to look at food from a different angle and create what is now the best food in the world (his restaurant is currently number 2 in the San Pelligrino world’s top restaurant list). Ben Shewry was inspired by both parents who lived off the land killing their own meat and growing their own produce. Niki Nakayama was compelled to prove herself to her Mum as an equally deserving child in a more traditional world where the son is seen as the rightful heir to the family business of food and parental backing.

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Dan Barber’s mother died when he was four so it was his father’s interest in good food that rubbed off on him, but it was his Grandmother’s farm that really stuck and now that farm is not only the name of his multi award winning restaurant but the farm itself also supplies and inspires his whole food ethos. It was these latter two in the series that we particularly enjoyed.

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I was lucky enough to enjoy a meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns with the aforementioned L&B some years ago and it didn’t disappoint. In fact for me, Dan Barber is challenging all the right issues and was before his time in understanding the source to plate story. His team are there with him too – from the concierge who took us round the farm to the waiting staff who talked us through the meal, it was an all round experience that I would recommend.

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