How to start your own cake business

...with Le Cordon Bleu alumna, Peggy Porschen.

Le Cordon Bleu is a renowned culinary arts institute across the globe making it one of the most sort after qualification for aspiring chefs. Graduates obtain in depth knowledge and techniques taught by Le Cordon Bleu Master Chefs allowing them to propel their careers. Le Cordon Bleu alumna Peggy Porschen who studied both pâtisserie and cuisine with the Grand Diplôme® shares how she achieved success as the founder of Peggy Porschen Cakes and provides advice for those looking to start their own business! Le Cordon Bleu Peggy Porschen Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where does your love for food come from?
My love for food is really rooted in my childhood in Germany. From a young age, I really enjoyed ordering well in restaurants and sampling lots of different tastes.  I love how food brings people together, it’s all about gathering, talking and enjoying being together. Visually I was always drawn to cakes and patisserie, the smell of marzipan still gives me this warm feeling of comfort with wonderful memories of Christmas and celebrations.
How did you learn how to bake?
Baking was my passion as a young teenager but in my heart I always knew I wanted to become a 'cake designer’. To my delight, I discovered the art of 'British Sugar Craft' while working as an air steward, a job which took me on regular trips to London. Soon after, I quit my job and the rest is history. I never looked back and feel truly blessed that I was able to follow my calling. I went on to complete Le Cordon Bleu London’s the Grand Diplôme® in 1999, and I was lucky enough to hold a number of prestigious pastry chef positions in London before ultimately fulfilling my ambition of launching my company in 2003; Peggy Porschen Cakes.  We are a hands-on British company which celebrates beautiful craftsmanship, inspired by romance, fashion and femininity.
What made you decide to start up Peggy Porschen and how did you develop it?
One of my career dreams when I started out was to own my own cake shop. Whilst at the height of my career as a wedding cake designer, the market suddenly changed due to the financial crisis. It felt like the right time to change direction and by chance the right premises became available. The Parlour officially opened in 2010 in Belgravia, and here our customers sample from our latest collection of freshly baked cupcakes, cookies and layer cakes. Our focus is on quality ingredients, traditional baking and creative flavours.  The Peggy Porschen Academy followed in 2011, after unprecedented demand for masterclass programmes.
Le Cordon Bleu Peggy Porschen What is the inspiration behind your creative pâtisserie?
When setting out I realised that I had an edge over my competitors in terms of style, quality and service. My brand naturally evolved to appeal to a high end market. I also personally aimed high, my goal was to become one of the best cake and sugar artists in the UK. However, I also realised that running a business at such a high end level is very dependent on my personal time and cannot be upscaled very easily. When I thought about my future, I quickly realised that as a brand I needed to become more accessible to a wider audience.
How did your culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu help you set up your business?
My tutors were incredibly helpful in guiding me in my career path, this included referring me for internships and ultimately securing my first position as a pastry chef.  I couldn’t have asked for more!
What did you enjoy most about studying the programme?
My training at Le Cordon Bleu helped me unequivocally.  It truly is world-class training in the finest pâtisserie skills, taught by the most amazing tutors. The training was tough, but that’s important as it is very close to the reality of working in a professional environment. It made me understand that I have to give my best in order to succeed.
How do you enjoy passing on your knowledge on to others?
Sharing my expertise with others is a huge passion of mine and the reason why we founded the Peggy Porschen Academy.  Students can select from a comprehensive year- round curriculum; from fun days out to courses for those hoping to kick start a career in cakes.
Le Cordon Bleu Peggy Porschen What makes your business successful?
We pride ourselves on our creativity and passion for cakes and sugar craft, making it our mission to sell happiness!  Creatively I am always planning for the next seasonal occasion or new collection of cakes. In recent years, we have become increasingly focused on achieving not only the best in taste and service, but also ensuring that the visual appearance of the food and the surroundings tick all the boxes.  This is where we have really been at the forefront in creatively aligning our Parlour installations with our seasonal collections, and as such the business has been propelled by the popularity of social media sharing.
What would you recommend for aspiring food entrepreneurs?
It’s imperative to know who you are as a brand and who your customer is.  When things are busy, knowing this allows you to stay 100% focused.  We also strive to stay ahead of the game and not just identify new trends, but also set them.  It’s so important to make time for this creative process. My advice would also be to understand that the experience and atmosphere of the surroundings are just as important as the food and service.  We’ve always maintained that it’s about selling a feeling, not just a product, and this has really worked for us.
After opening Peggy Porschen Parlour, launching books and the Academy are there any future developments in the pipeline?
We are looking at expanding the Peggy Porschen Parlour this year. I simply love working on the creative side of the business that the Parlour allows for, as well as brand development.  I am thrilled to see how amazing the response has been from our customers and indeed other brands.

Find out more about the brilliant Peggy Porschen, and perhaps even plan a visit to her parlour on her website

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