What’s cooking | Blog | Inside the head of a chef

Inside the head of a chef

Posted on 21st March 2017



Ryan Stafford – Head Chef

Cupcakes are so last year!

This is a short story but one that will affect your skill base forever. As a young boy I was often known to carry much passion for creating and having the motivation to see things through, so the quest to make the perfect macaroon became a personal mission of mine, although I didn’t even discover these amazingly beautiful mini works of art until my teenage years. It was a case of trial and error from the start after being self-taught on the subject in question. In trying to be the best it was important for me to make as many mistakes as it was success stories. During my quest for the perfect macaroon I’ve produced some incredible things never seen before by man – from muffin shaped to mushroom shaped, from burnt ones to biscuity ones, and some that I would not know what to call as after they had baked they still looked exactly the same as before!

The art of the macaroon is the ultimate skill, as perfected by the godfathers of French cuisine today – Alain Roux, Pierre Herme, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse. I‘ve worked and do work with some incredible cooks and pastry chefs but only know a few that have the skill to make a perfect macaroon. I think there is a common fear of not understanding the science behind the process and not knowing when to insert the most precision. But the truth is once you have my solid recipe and a spare Saturday afternoon, you will be up there with the greats producing your own masterpieces!

I’ve often been known for showering the women closest in my life with macaroons. Some of these have been my own handiwork and some have been amazing artisan ones from places such as Konditor & Cook and various other patisseries and bakers at Borough Market. But one thing is for sure, it’s always the perfect gift for the mother-in-law!

I believe the perfect macaroon is what you make it, and that’s why I always strive for perfection from every angle – the shape, the glossy finish, the pied (foot), and most importantly the texture because once you experience a soft, unctuous, velvety centered one, I promise it’s a memory that will stay with any food lover for life!

Macaroons have been around for yonks and many different flavours have been produced from the obvious lemon, chocolate and raspberry ones to more adventurous ones (asparagus and hazelnut or strawberry and wasabi to name a few!!) They never seem to disappoint though no matter what flavour and cooks have been reinventing them for decades. Unlike other short term trends these bad boys have proved they are here to stay and that’s why I think cup cakes are so last year!

So I have created a bespoke recipe just in time for Easter for you to become a true great and maybe even feel inspired to create your own flavours once you have added this foundation recipe to your cooking repertoire.