This weekend me and George went to Laduree, the macaron shop in Covent garden and it reminded me of one thing: me and macarons have such a history! I mean seriously we go way back and it reminded me that I'd never really talked about it on the blog so I thought I would do a post!
When I was about 16 I watched Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and decided two things.
1) Those macaron things look gooooood and
2) I am going to Paris.
I had never been before, I had no money and no way of getting there but I decided that I was definitely going to find a way. I started working on 1) but I couldn't find anywhere to buy a macaron in the UK. They're pretty much everywhere now but a few years ago they were strictly Parisian and even a scouring of London didn't satisfy my macaron cravings. So I made them and for some reason I was good at them. Macarons are notoriously tricky to master and yet for some reason I had the knack, it was ridiculously lucky! Then, in a total stroke of madness which I still don't understand I booked a table at a local fete and called myself a "Macaron Chef". Baring in mind I had only cooked one batch so far- it was ridiculous. But I did it. I painted a big sign, George helped build me a display and I stayed up all night making hundreds of macs in twelve different flavours.
And weirdly enough I completely sold out, I couldn't believe it! Everyone who came up to my stall gasped and giggled at all the bright colours and said they simply had to try one of these strange cookies. I was totally over the moon! The next week I booked up a few more fetes and village fayres and basically spent a summer lugging boxes of macarons from county to county (with the help of George and my parents) and completely selling out nearly every time. I felt so amazingly good about myself and for the first time I realised that I loved working for myself; there was something so brilliant about seeing a direct correlation between the amount of work I put in and the amount of feedback and money I got out. I was hooked! I booked more, I made more, I sold more and so on and so on.
I'm sorry about the fuzzy picture, it just really sums up the excitement of selling out!
The big break came when I was asked to do the Oxford Food festival hosted by chef Raymond Blanc. It was the biggest show I'd ever done and I was really quite intimidated; I had a huge stand to fill and I was only 16 but I rose to the challenge. The event was over two days and so I planned ahead and made enough macarons for the entire weekend. It was pretty exhausting preparing but oh my goodness it was exciting.
So I arrived at the fair I set out my stall and sold my entire weekend's stock within a few hours. I couldn't believe it. I got literally about an hour's sleep that night because I had to rush home and make another weekend's worth of macarons in 12 hours. Ahhhh it was so frantic! I still don't know how I did it because usually it would take me so long just to do one load but I suppose adrenaline put me on autopilot. I sold out again and realised an amazing fact. I had saved enough money to go to Paris!
And so we went! Feeling decidedly more older and mature for having started a business and paid for a holiday we jetted off to Paris and lived in luxury for a week in Montmatre. It was amazing and everything I could've possibly hoped it to be. Plus I had my first ever macaron not made by me! Then I had lots and lots more... purely for research's sake.
Sadly recently I've taken an extended break from macarons. Every now and then I still do special orders, like this tower, for old clients but on the whole I've gone pretty macaron cold turkey. After Paris I had to concentrate on my A levels and after that I got quite badly ill and had to deal with my dental surgery and so I had no time to run a business And even after that moving to Edinburgh sort of displaced everything and it felt like to start selling up there would feel like beginning all over again and so I sort of fizzled out. Having said that though I am totally planning to sell again this Summer, if not for the money then for the fact that I get to eat the left overs.
So there, I do have an interesting past with macarons!