Interview With: Neil Thornton
Company Name: Le Papillon Patisserie
Location: Woking, Surrey
Describe Le Papillon Patisserie
Le Papillon is a modern patisserie based in Surrey. The business is set in 2500 sq ft of space and we produce for retail, wholesale and has a specialist wedding cake department where couples can come in for a one-on-one design session to create their perfect wedding cake with me.
How did Le Papillon Patisserie get started and how long has the business been going?
Le Papillon was started 11 years ago, and it happened to be the first place to hire me when I was a student looking for work experience. Three years ago the owners were retiring and I was looking at opening a patisserie to boost my wedding cake business. In addition to adding the wedding cakes, I have changed the shop slightly to bring it in line with a more modern patisserie.
Have you always wanted to be a Patissier?
Absolutely! I remember cooking from a very early age with my mum, and I believe it’s the kind of profession where you can’t develop a love for what you do, you are born into it. I have always enjoyed baking and couldn’t wait to specialise in patisserie when I left school. I also studied sugar craft, which is where I believe I benefit as a Patissier by having both the knowledge to bake and decorate cakes. I can honestly say I walk into work happy every day, knowing I will be spending the day doing what I love!
What type of cakes do you make?
At Le Papillon we have quite a large range of cakes to choose from, and we create bespoke cakes for brides if requested. We tend to stay away from anything ‘novelty’ and focus on very ‘edible’, yet beautiful cakes. I never understand when people make a cake to just look pretty. I believe that a cake should be delicious to eat as well as elegant on the outside. We are certainly one of the market leaders for Croquembouche in the country as well as patisserie style wedding cakes.
Does Le Papillon Patisserie have a specialist area?
Yes, I would say the Croquembouche. It’s a classic French wedding cake made of choux buns dipped in caramel, and filled with crème patissière. It’s so delicious and looks just stunning. The Croquembouche is quickly becoming very fashionable with our British clients.
What areas do you cover?
We are based in Surrey, just outside of Guildford in a town called Woking. We theoretically cover worldwide, but the distance will obviously be reflected in the cost of what we produce. On a few occasions we have been asked to fly out to locations to prepare wedding cakes, which is amazing fun!
What sets Le Papillon Patisserie apart from other wedding cake makers?
I think a couple of things, such as our very personal service, and cakes that look just a little bit more ‘wow’ than your traditional iced cake. If I was to choose one thing, I would say the taste. So many wedding cakes go uneaten because they taste dry and average. We bake cakes to taste great first then look good second. Our ingredients are the best you can find; if we have to import something because it’s better then we do.
What’s the best thing about your job?
That’s a tough one. I think it’s a tie between the moment when you hear how happy a couple was with their wedding day and cake, and the moment you sit down with the cake trimmings and a cup of tea after a long, hard day!
Do you have a favourite cake that you have made?
This is always a tough question. I think right now our Dark Chocolate Cigarello with Orange Calla Lilies and Miss Piggy Roses wins this one. It is closely followed by our Tea Party Tower, or maybe our Chocolate Wrapped Gateaux…
Random question… iphone or Blackberry?
iPhone. If you had asked me 3 years ago I would have said Blackberry. I see that Blackberry is better for email, but the iPhone is just so much easier to navigate the internet, find places, and upload photos to our Facebook page etc. I would be completely lost without it. We’re even now using an iPad to showcase our cakes to clients when they come into tastings!
Where can I find out more about Le Papillon Patisserie?
Visit our website www.lepapilloncakesuk.com or call 01483 771244.