Following a quick brush with some TV stars, Gerhard Jenne celebrates the opening of the firm’s new shop in Spitalfields
I have had quite a varied 24 hours. I started off with an invite to the BBC’s Bakes & Cakes Show at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. I had the pleasure of being interviewed on stage by Jo Wheatley, winner of series two of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO), followed by a book-signing session.
I was small fry compared the heavyweights of TV baking, such as baking goddess Mary Berry and baking sex-god Paul Hollywood. (After all, I only had 12 minutes of fame on Sunday Brunch earlier this year!). However, I managed to exchange glances with Mary Berry and nibbled a corner of her very own chocolate roulade, while sipping a cup of Earl Grey in the green room. Incidentally, Jo Wheatley shares the same agent as Mary Berry, and I reckon Jo, with her natural charm at interviewing, will do well and might one day step into Mary’s shoes.
By and large, the BBC’s Bakes & Cakes Show is squarely aimed at the home baker. The place was rammed with exactly the sort of people I would expect to watch GBBO, and there are lots of them.
Following my ‘media appearance’ in north London, it was over to the east and a quick check-up on progress at our new site in Spitalfields Market. There were a few builders still snagging around the edges, but overall it was very nearly there. Our new team was on hand to get some last-minute training and to give the place a good clean-up following a breakneck shop-fit that took just one week.
The next morning, I found myself on a ladder, co-designing a special light fitting that graces the cake consultation area of the shop. It required that I illustrate or inscribe 50 sheets of paper that make up a very lightweight chandelier, designed by German lighting guru Ingo Maurer. Being on the ladder gave me a good vantage point and it was great to see the shop being filled with all our lovely products: bags of cookies and brownies and a very striking semi-circular display unit full of our bright fondant-fancy Magic Cakes.
Eventually, the fridges and counters were stocked with our cakes for the soft opening at 11am. I could see the ops team going slightly white in their faces when the till company announced there was a virus in the system and it needed some kind of re-boot. It was easier in the days when it was less electronic, but on the other hand, I would really miss the in-depth readings and reports we now get from this system. Hopefully, in a few days, the phone lines and credit card machines will all be synchronised and function beautifully.
The first customers were handed samples from about 10am and, by the time the bells of Spitalfields Church rang at 11 o’clock, we had a packed shop, including lots of foreign tourists, British families with their kids on half-term breaks, and groups of giggling office workers who stole themselves away from their desks to get their first brownie fix.
After that it was a dash south, across the river to our bakery at Borough Market, where I was to supervise the first Stollen-baking session for this Christmas period. But more on that next week!