Let Them Eat Cake: Danielle Jackson Spotlight
Since she was a young girl, Escoffier Online graduate Danielle Jackson has loved being in the kitchen. It wasn’t until 2011, when she started taking classes for baking at a reputable International culinary school in her native England, that her passions came forward in her life. Now the owner of a made-to-order gateau shop in the South of France that focuses on making personalized cakes for customers, Danielle is pursuing her pastry dreams in full force. And that’s what brought her to Escoffier Online. Wanting a convenient way to learn the fundamentals of the pastry arts while still being able to efficiently run her cake-making business, Danielle made her way through the online baking program to not only better her knowledge and skills but also reach a deeper understanding of the profession. Now with her certificate in hand, she can focus on the creativity and inspiration that initially drove her to want to be a pâtissier.
Danielle took a moment to answer some questions we had about meeting Michel Escoffier, what she enjoyed most about the Escoffier Online pastry program and what she looks forward to most in the future of her career!
Escoffier Online: When did you fall in love with the pastry arts?
Danielle Jackson: From tiny, I have always loved being in the kitchen. In 2011, I saw courses for cake design in a reputed international school in England and it just clicked, the choice was obvious to me. From the moment I stepped into that school, it was love at first sight.
EO: Why did you want to do the Escoffier Online pastry program?
DJ: It was all very nice having inspiration and creativity, but I wanted the technique and knowledge linked to the preparation and organization of ingredients and recipes.
EO: You own and operate your own cake shop in the South of France. Tell us about that.
DJ: Well, it’s actually a cake ‘workshop’. This means that I only make-to-order and everything is tailor-made to the client’s wants and needs. Naturally wastage is therefore at a minimum and the fact that everyone’s cake is different (and exclusive), both in taste and appearance, tempts people greatly.
EO: What is the most rewarding part of owning your own pastry business?
DJ: Knowing that what you get out of it, whether it be the money or the smiles from the clients, has been because of you and your own work, in your name.
EO: The name of your business is Désirdérata. What does that mean and why did you pick that name?
DJ: Désirdérata is latin for ‘the desired things’ or ‘what one desires’. I think we can all agree that cake is highly desirable! It was actually my parents who came up with the name and I liked it instantly. It’s mysterious & it contains the French word ‘désir’ (desire).
EO: What did you love most about the Escoffier Online pastry arts program?
DJ: I don’t think I can pinpoint just one thing, but a few things. Firstly, the “do it in your own time” aspect. Already running my business at the time of starting, I needed a program that I could do in parallel with my work. I found the eBooks very well written and clear to follow as well as the recipes and online tutorials. And finally, the whole Escoffier team, from the administration to the mentors, were so helpful and available, ready and happy to respond to any enquiry. The program on a whole was a wonderful experience.
EO: You recently took a trip to the Fondation Escoffier in Villeneuve, France to receive your certificate from Michel Escoffier, the great grandson of the famous chef. Tell us about that experience.
DJ: Honestly, it was an emotional roller-coaster. Meeting Michel Escoffier in person was overwhelming. For me, he represents the man who is the root and back bone of everything I had learnt. Michel Escoffier is a veritable coal mine of knowledge and listening to him talk about our culinary ancestors and their impact on today’s living, is like listening to a favourite bed-time story as a child – you always want to know more. I thank Escoffier for letting me be a part of that priceless experience.
EO: What 3 people would attend your celebrity chef dinner party and why.
DJ: Jamie Oliver: He has involved himself in the battle of getting people to eat better and healthier through his Food Revolution, especially creating awareness amongst children by teaching them about what they eat at home & at school, where their food comes from & how it’s made. He also makes cooking and baking less daunting through his variety of books and television programmes.
Chef Yannick Alleno: Three Michelin star French chef. Known for his perfectionism and excellence, he owns his own laboratory where he researches the best textures, flavours and combinations of each element destined for his dishes, finding the ideal balance for all the senses.
Chef Wolfgang Puck: a very modern and outgoing chef, not only by his inventive cuisine in his worldwide restaurants and high-end catering business, but by his virtual presence with his self-named ‘app’ and his range of quality equipment for sale online.
EO: What is the one ingredient you always have to have in your kitchen.
DJ: I would say Madagascan vanilla pods. To have vanilla extract in something is good but to have the tiny, black seeds present in a dessert makes it exquisite! (like homemade Madagascan vanilla ice cream).
EO: What do you love most about French pastries?
DJ: I enjoy the fact most of them are light and almost always visually appealing.
EO: What do you look forward to most about your future in the pastry arts?
DJ: I would love to have the opportunity to write a book and travel for my art. My current cake artistry business is growing nicely and apart from maintaining it, and expanding, I can’t say I have specific plans. That said, I will seize any opportunity that comes along because I love what I do and I adore sharing the passion.