The New Seasonal Baker On The Block: Meet Chez Ella
There's a new seasonal baker on the block, and we want to know all about it! This weekend we sat down with Ella Harding, Founder of Chez Ella London to hear all about her new business, the mission and how she's weaving sustainability into the mix.
Q: Tell us about your business!
A: It’s a little bespoke cake business which I run from my kitchen - we launched a couple of weeks ago! I have a small menu of different flavours as I tested each recipe to absolute perfection. However, I also love a challenge and have acquired lots of recipes throughout my time as a pastry chef so I encourage custom requests! The designs of my cakes vary from minimalistic to florid to kitsch - but the quality remains. The appearance of a cake should never exceed its taste.
Q: What inspired you to start Chez Ella?
A: I’ve always loved cooking since I was very young. I’ve never been afraid of heat or sharp knives. Six years ago I trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Bloomsbury and completed Le Grande Diplôme which is the full training course for both Pastry and Cuisine. After graduating I worked as a pastry chef in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across London. Being a chef, especially in Michelin-starred restaurants, is exhausting but I definitely learned a lot. I actually took a break from cooking two years ago in order to return to university in order to finish my Philosophy degree (I always kicked myself for dropping out). During that time I desperately missed being in the kitchen and using my hands. Philosophy and cooking are two great passions of mine - I hope one day I might find a way of merging the two. Graduating from university coincided with the birth of my son, so I wanted to find a way of returning to cooking but in a capacity which still allowed me to spend lots of time with him. I also love the wholesomeness of baking and it’s symbolism. Cakes are symbolic of of uniting and sharing, of happy occasions, milestones and being in good company (even if that just means your own). This past year leading up to starting this little company has been a gradual process of experimenting in the kitchen and revisiting old recipes I’ve acquired throughout my career as a chef (punctuated by a few toddler tantrums too, of course). I’m very happy that’s it’s finally come together.
Q: We noticed you offer vegan cakes, is sustainability a key part of Chez Ella’s mission?
A: Yes absolutely. Majority of our cakes have a vegan option. In addition to this I use seasonal produce wherever possible. Not just because it’s a sustainable and conscious approach to have as a business but also just because when you use items that are locally sourced and in season they taste a million times better. You’ll really notice the difference if you have locally sourced rhubarb in spring, berries in the summer, pears in the winter. At the moment we have vanilla sponge with summer berries or fresh strawberries on our menu for the summer we’re entering. New additions will be added to the menu as we journey through the upcoming seasons. Eating in a way which is mindful of seasonality is a wonderful way to celebrate what nature has to offer.
Q: What does the future look like for Chez Ella?
A: Bright I hope! I love the intimacy of operating from my own kitchen but as the orders are significantly increasing a much bigger oven would make life much easier! So towards the end of the year we may look to opening a little shop! Another thing is that we moved home recently and the garden is a total sun trap so I’d love to build a vegetable patch in my garden. If we can harvest some fruit successfully, I’d love to include that produce in the cakes and document that transitional process from planting to growth to consumption. I’m a total novice though so we’ll have to see! Cake decorating workshops is also another thing I’d love to do when the time is right.
Q: Where can we find you and follow along your journey?