A Mackem masterchef who’s whipped up sweet treats for the Queen is now crafting cakes at a Roker tearoom.
Andrew Blas, 34, honed his craft under the tutelage of Benoit Blin - judge on TV’s Bake Off: Creme de la Crème and chef pâtissier at Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, at Oxfordshire, for more than 20 years - before taking over the reins as executive pastry chef at the luxury Hotel Cafe Royal.
During his time in London, he prepared lavish pastries for a host of famous faces, many of whom he had to sign a secrecy agreement about, including a decadent chocolate pudding for the Queen.
Now, one of the most well-respected pasty chefs in the country has returned home to open his own business and has teamed up with Let There Be Crumbs at the Roker Hotel to provide their cakes, macaroons and pastries.
Despite an illustrious career which has seen him captain the UK Pastry World Cup Team, as well as being the first person to co-brand chocolate with the luxury brand Valhrona, Andrew says this latest venture is extra special because of the location.
He said: “I grew up around the corner to the Roker Hotel and, although it was never my intention to do a shop, when this opportunity came up it felt right because it’s so close to where I grew up.”
Andrew’s collaboration with the tearoom came about after general manager Jonathan Graham sampled one of his macaroons at a gastronomy event. He was so impressed he asked Andrew to come on board to improve the cake offering at the hotel’s Let There Be Crumbs cakery and tearoom.
The chocolatier’s exclusive hand-made patisserie will be available from May 29 and includes classics, such as macaroons, florentines and a nutty brownie, as well as Andrew’s take on an Opera Gateaux which features lemon and lime instead of chocolate and coffee, as well as his signature chocolate cake.
Andrew, who has opened his own business, Proper Patisserie, in Hebburn, is inspired by the French-style of pastry making and says he feels passionate about bringing classical pastries to his home city.
“The product that I do is definitely high-end patisserie level,” he said. “At Le Manoir we learnt how to do everything in the classic style and then at Cafe Royal I was able to put my own spin on that. I want to bring the level of pastry that you can eat in London and Paris to wherever I am working. I like to take the classical and bring it into 2017.”
Andrew, who juggles running his new business with consultancy work in Dubai, added: “Some people think pastry and just think of a cream bun, which is what I used to eat growing up, but it’s about so much more than that, it’s so artistic and creative.”