Debbie Wong recently met with James Stockdale as part of her Chef Talk interviews, which can be found below
Interview by Debbie Wong on Chef Talk
The British Kitchen is owned and managed by James Stockdale; a fully qualified Architect whose obsession with British baking got the better of him. Shortly after moving to from London to China in 2012, James established an artisanal home bakery in an effort to offer Shanghai classic British baked goods.
James Stockdale是British Kitchen的创始人，他也是一个资深的建筑师，坚信英式烘培找到了更好的自己，2012年从英国伦敦搬到上海不久，James开办了匠心独到的家庭烘培坊，提供经典的英式烘培。
Q&A English Version
Debbie: What is it about British baked goods that set them apart from say, French or American sweets?
James: For me personally there is a huge nostalgia with British Baked goods. I have very fond memories of walking into my local bakeries when I was young and staring wide eyed at all the delicious offerings. I can still distinctly remember the smell and sheer variety of different cakes, buns, biscuits, rolls, breads and everything else in between! I do of course enjoy French patisserie and sweets but I think there is something special and homely about British desserts and cakes that for me set them apart. Although British cakes can often be modest when it comes to looks, I think they more than make up for it in depth of flavor and their ability to make you always crave for another piece even after seconds (or even thirds!).
Debbie: I know you are an architect ( or former architect?) how did your passion for baking come?
James: I often refer to myself as an Architect whom’s obsession with baking got the better of him! I’ve had a passion for baking since as long as I remember. My mother is an extraordinary baker and growing up on a farm it felt like she was constantly in the kitchen preparing all sorts of delicious food and baked goods for the family. I remember I would stand beside her on one of the kitchen chairs and she would often give me ingredients to play with to make my own creations (one of which I remember exploding in the oven!). I think it was this early exposure to food that really developed my interest and kindled my natural curiosity of working with food, understanding the science of baking and experimenting with flavor and texture combinations.
Debbie: Which of your offerings are a best seller in Shanghai? Are you surprised?
James: I tend to change what I bake for my customers almost every week, depending on what ingredients are seasonally available and new recipes I’ve been working on. Having said this, there are always a few firm favorites that I never fail to make! One of these is Chunky Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies. I’ve got a slight obsession with brownies, in that I hate it when I buy one in a shop and they are dry, not at all chocolaty and more often than not disgustingly sweet. I prefer to make mine really fudgy, moist and offer up a really strong hit of chocolate – everything a good brownie in my eyes should be.
I wouldn’t say I was surprised to discover that British baked products sell well in Shanghai, as I truly believe the UK produces some of the best baking and cakes anywhere in the world (we did after all invent afternoon tea!). I did however make modifications to the sugar quantity in some of my products as I quickly learned that my Chinese customers prefer less sweet products.
Debbie: Finally, a very important question: how do you take your tea?
James: The MOST important question! A cup of ‘builders’ with milk and no sugar, thank you very much! (‘Builders’ is an affectionate term we British use for regular black tea, as quite simply its what builders drink!). The French are known to say “To put milk in your tea before sugar is to cross the path of love, perhaps never to marry” however as I’m neither French, superstitious or take sugar in my tea, I like add the milk in first!
James：最重要的问题！一杯’建设者’加牛奶不加糖，谢谢！ （’建设者’是我们英国人惯用的红茶术语，，因为很简单，就是工人喝的！）。法国会很典型的说：“把牛奶在糖之前先加进茶里，是挡了爱的道路，这样也许永不结婚”。 但是我也不是法国人，所以依旧我的方式，先加牛奶！