A passion for pastry at ârtisserie Pâtisserie
An unforgettable pâtisserie, designed and crafted by one of the nation’s most respected pastry chefs par excellence, Chris Underwood
When it comes to the art of pastry cheffing, Chris Underwood is a master. Beginning his career at Cliveden Hotel in Berkshire, he has worked ever since within multiple Michelin-starred restaurants to develop his craft, talent and technique to the standards of a genius. The result? Perfectly formed cakes, pastries, breads and more that taste just as exquisite as they look in the Jewel of the Weald.
After starting out at the Cliveden Hotel where he firmly established his love for the art of pastry cheffing, Chris went on to grace Pied à Terre, The Capital Hotel, The Grove, Gidleigh Park, L`Ortolan, La Becasse, The Langham Hotel, The Five Fields and The Typing Room with his craftsmanship. It was while he was appointed head pastry chef for Michelin-starred restaurant Tom Aikens in Chelsea that Chris was pushed to his limits creatively. However, Chris says that one of his most prestigious positions to date was head pastry chef of the Michelin-starred Fera in Claridge’s Hotel.
With a CV that oozes creme-de-la-creme glory, it’s no surprise that Chris wanted to pour his passion and talent into his own signature business. Thus, Ârtisserie was born. After teaming up with his business partner and fellow chef, Graham Garett of Biddenden’s The West House, Ârtisserie opened its doors earlier this year to serve the people of Tenterden and beyond.
insideKENT caught up with Chris to find out more about him, the artist behind Ârtisserie’s divine cakes, bakes and creations.
Ârtisserie is located in the centre of Tenterden, the Jewel of the Weald, a delightful and secluded part of Kent – why did you choose this spot for your business?
The deciding factor was simply that my wife grew up in Tenterden; it’s such a beautiful market town and we’ve always really appreciated its unique beauty and character. Having worked in London for many years, it was also the lifestyle change we knew Tenterden would give us that swayed us even more. Our son is only four years old, so space and the idyllic setting for him to grow up in also contributed to our decision.
Describe a typical day for you at Ârtisserie.
A typical day starts at 3.50am when I wake up and cycle to the shop for 4.15am. I turn on the deck oven to get the stones hot and set the temperature and humidity for the proofer. I start making the four variations of different bread we have and prepare the morning pastries for the proofer.
After all the Viennasoire is baked, I start to cook the bread. This is our Old Dairy IPA Loaf, which we use in conjunction with the local micro brewery, Old Dairy Brewery (www.olddairybrewery.com) that’s just a five minute walk from the shop. It made sense to use local producers and offer something different and artisan in Tenterden, and it’s great that Kent provides so many opportunities like this.
I then prepare all the petit gateaux and cakes ready for the display fridge. By 9am, the products are all ready to sell and look beautiful. After this, I have a coffee and prepare for the next day.
What made you decide you wanted to make the move from London to Kent for work?
The move was initially to live outside London and start my own business. I wanted to do something for myself after working for other high-end restaurants and hotels. I am in my 40s, so I wasn’t getting any younger and now was the best time to start.
What do you love most about Kent?
What I love most about Kent is the space, countryside and products available on the doorstep. I also love the people and different pace of life here. It has been a complete reverse of the fast-paced action I was used to in London. Despite this, it is so conveniently located in proximity to London; the train journey is only one hour if I ever need to go.
How has Kent inspired you within work, business and your personal life?
Running your own business is hard; it requires every ounce of your energy, both mental and physical. Kent offers a lot on the food side of things and the products available are really good quality. Being the Garden of England, fresh produce is available in abundance – I love the cherries, strawberries, raspberries and even asparagus! We bought a house in Cranbrook and our son starts school in September, so there’s always lots more to look forward to and focus on if work ever gets tough.
If there was one thing you would like our readers to know about Ârtisserie, what would it be?
We make absolutely everything on site. We even have a glass door into the kitchen so people can see me creating the items and nothing is brought in pre-made. Ârtisserie is a little piece of France in Tenterden.
Tell us a little bit about pastry cheffing, why it originally appealed to you and how you found yourself following this career route.
Pastry cheffing takes commitment, sacrifice, hard work and dedication to the craft. I started at a young age and was always enthralled by the process as well as the playfulness and creativity that can be put into each creation. I have been lucky enough to have worked in some of the UK’s top kitchens, which has helped me refine my style and career path. I have specific mentors to thank for this.
What does the future hold for you and Ârtisserie?
We are six months old In June, so we are still growing and finding our way. We are happy with how far we’ve come in those six months and the place we’re at right now but there’s still plenty to do to move forward and progress. I imagine there will be lots of progressive changes to come in the future – so watch this space.
53 High St
Tenterden TN30 6BD