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A Chef With a Sweet Tooth

When I first came in to the trade of catering, one of my first roles was as a pastry chef all those years ago......

So this is the first in a series of three mini blogs about how, my love of sweet things came about and how I have recently found a great healthier alternative to sugar.

I am feeling very passionate about this subject, because this time I am going to tell you a little bit about myself, a little snippet on how things were in my childhood years and probably gave me the taste that I needed to become a chef. I felt that this time maybe an opportunity to open up a little and let you in to a world that only my family and close friends know about and which is very personal to me.

Aha! I have found a great alternative to sugar and as well as sharing this information with you I hope it will help me, by not making multiple trips to the dentist chair as often as I have been over the years. Ever since the dentist in Nile St. N1 used to pluck them out just for fun (I mean it wasn’t only me he did this to but I am so glad I still have teeth in my head). Secondly it will also help with your daily diet if like me you enjoy sweet treats.

My need to be more healthy has taken me on the trail to find an alternative to sugar, something that can give me my sweet taste and without the excess of calories. So I went in search of a plant based, herb based source just to keep things as real as I can and I have finally found something that is a great alternative to sugar and it is called Stevia, so see, it’s no secret at all. You may have already heard of this product and have even used it or still use it, but before I go through the process of letting you know about it I am going to say a few words about the sweet tooth that I gained from a young age and how reluctant I became to give up my sugar.

As infants, a good amount of us have been introduced to sweet things in all shapes and forms and which of course contain sugar or at least it did when I was growing up as a young lad. Now I don’t know about you but for me I find it hard to remember what I did yesterday and last week and I even stop to think what needs to be done next when I am busy in the kitchen. However I find it easier to remember my early years growing up as a kid in central London. Skipping back some years and remembering the kids that I grew up with from the estates, back then most of us used to congregate at one local shop. The sort that sold real sweets, the type that are stacked on the shelves in clear glass jars, so you can peer through almost like you can touch them. With an aroma of strawberry, mint, chocolate, aniseed, jelly and caramel and yes, if you know of where I talk about, I am guessing it still holds a soft spot in your hearts as well as mine. The place I talk of is the candy shop that was on Pitfield Street, London. N1.

I remember all too well the candy shop run that took place every Sunday. Over the years, I visited this shop just like other kids did. Being placed between two churches it became almost religious :) and a meeting place where you made friends and some friends that I am still in contact with today. If you’re reading this you must remember that shop, those famous cough candies, the pear drops, the sugar cubes, the bonbons and the freshly spun candy floss. I can still smell that sweet aroma in my senses of old, “cor blimey gov’nor I feel like I have just stepped back in time”.

These days when I make my own caramel or honeycomb or burn the sugar for that favourite of desserts that we borrowed from our French cousins, the Crème Brulée, the smell gets me every single time and takes me back.

So having given you a bit of history, and I’ll give you a bit more and also some information on Stevia next time. Here is a recwx ipe for the aforementioned Crème Brulée and using no sugar but replacing it with Stevia.

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