Yolande Stanley, pastry chef and tutor at Westminster Kingsway College

Yolande Stanley. Photo: courtesy of Yolande Stanley

Yolande Stanley. Photo: courtesy of Yolande Stanley

Yolande Stanley. A great lady who has mastered the art of pastry and chocolate to the highest levels. A lady who has taught and trained new generations of chefs. A teacher at Westminster Kingsway College where she looks after the Professional Patisserie Scholarship and the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts apprentices for their Level 3 Patisserie and Confectionery course. Cacao Barry Ambassador.  Humble, energetic and with a wonderful sparkle in her eyes. A lovely person to know and a great professional to learn from.

How would you introduce yourself?

Passionate about all things patisserie and confectionery; transferring knowledge and still hungry to learn.

How did you enter into the pastry world? 

It all started through gathering recipes by reading the sweet sections of my mother’s cookery books from a very early age. This was subliminal learning because I didn’t realise then that it was to be my vocational dedication and career.

What is your greatest achievement?

Still being allowed to support amazing people – those starting out at college and others competing for the UK. Another one was gaining MCA – Master if Culinary Arts – for patisserie  in 2000.

Christmas tree. Photo: courtesy of Yolande Stanley

Christmas tree. Photo: courtesy of Yolande Stanley

You have also trained Alistair Birt who is this week competing in Paris at World Chocolate Masters.
Mentoring in the initial stages with some of the competitors can be starting the competition process from scratch. This is incredibly rewarding when it successfully leads to them performing on a world stage with confidence and aplomb.
Alistair is very much his own person and a true professional. His expertise has developed to an amazing level since we started the training in 2008 for the World Skills competition in Canada 2009. The dynamics have now changed; I have been very happy to support him in his bid for World Chocolate Masters during which I have learnt a great deal from him.
I am honoured that he trusted  my opinions and allowed me to work with him in tweaking his performance and products but largely he was self motivated and knew exactly what he was aiming for.
Do you have a secret desire/ambition?

For a competitor to win a gold medal at WorldSkills.

And an ultimate dream? 
For Alistair to win World Chocolate Masters.
Chocolate tartlets. Photo: courtesy of Yolande Stanley

Chocolate tartlets. Photo: courtesy of Yolande Stanley

What/who is inspiring you?

Inspirations come from all around me constantly. I am always researching current trends.

What do you love most about your work?

Teaching and the diversity of the people I teach – I have a reason to remain up to date and to try new techniques and products.

What do you think is most difficult to master?

What are your favourite flavours?

Chocolate, fresh fruit at its peak and aniseed flavours.

What is your relationship with chocolate?

I love working with chocolate as well as eating it, it has so many facets and challenges.

Which Cacao Barry chocolate is your favourite and why?

At the moment Alto El Sol, my choice varies depending on the production, what it is to accompany and my mood. It is very fresh and deeply structured.

Which is your favourite dessert that you have created and why?

This fluctuates depending on season and what I’m doing at any one time.

Currently it’s caramelised mango and chocolate strudel with lime gum, chocolate Sauce and Pina colada ice cream.

What was the best chocolate dessert that you have eaten and where?

Sacher torte with sauted fresh apricots and vanilla ice cream – private memorial to John Huber at home!

What would be your final message for our readers?

Always read the menu from the desserts up to starters to make sure the rest fits with the most important course!

Bread pumpkin. Photo: courtesy of Yolande Stanley

Bread pumpkin. Photo: courtesy of Yolande Stanley