Baker of the Month May 2022
Bakers: George & Geanina Ursache
Bakery Business: Prestige Patisserie
Location: Tottenham, London, UK.
Social Media: @prestigepatiss
This month we’re delighted to feature Chef Works wearer George Ursache along with his beautiful Wife, Geanina – proud owners of ‘Prestige Patisserie’ an independent, award-winning patisserie based in North London. Teammates in life and work, this extraordinary baking duo made it all the way to the Semi-Finals in Bake Off: The Professionals 2021. Get to know them more…
1. Describe your bakery business:
We run a little artisan patisserie in the heart of Tottenham, North London.
We’ve grown our business with a huge amount of love and patience! Geanina has been working in patisserie for over 20 years, having begun her training in Romania when she was just 14. George, who initially worked as an engineer, began working in bakeries and patisseries when we moved to the UK – using his science background to help approach the science of patisserie. We were excited at the idea of opening own business because we wanted to experiment and create recipes with our own stamp. Together, we initially ran the business out of our one-bedroom flat. Our hard work paid off and we found permanent premises! Since then, we’ve continued to grow and most recently we found ourselves on Bake Off: The Professionals where we became Semi-Finalists!
2. Describe your kitchen:
Our kitchen is always buzzing with activity! We’ve always got lots of things in production as well as bespoke orders. Connected to the bakery/kitchen we had an outdoor space, which we have transformed into a tranquil space for customers to try our food from the source! George runs the shop and the business side of things and has become the master of delicious coffee!.
Delicious fresh pastries every day at Prestige.
3. Favourite Chef Works item and why?
It has to be the Urban Gramercy Chef Coat, which I (George) always wear. I really love the design and zipper, plus the fact that it has no buttons is an amazing feature!
4. First job:
Since we were young we have had many, many jobs – too long to list here! But, to keep it simple – since arriving in the UK our first jobs were are Flourish Craft Bakery where Geanina was a Pastry Chef and George was a General Assistant.
5. Favourite cookbook:
Lots, but if we had to pick one, I would choose Professional Baking by W. Gisslen.
6. Your awards/career highlights:
Our biggest career highlight is becoming Semi Finalists on Bake Off: The Professionals in 2021. It was an incredible experience and has really grown us as a team. We’re also very proud to be a Great Taste Producer. Judges have loved our Medovik Honey Cake, our Salted Caramel Tart, Passion Fruit Meringue Tart and Triple Chocolate Brownie. It’s fantastic to receive such positive feedback on products we put our heart into.
7. Your baking inspiration and why:
Geanina’s passion for baking has been close to her heart for as long as she remembers. There are many fond memories of making fudge and walnut cookies with her mother. Many recipes have been handed down through Geanina’s family for generations, forming a huge part of her childhood and sparking the start of the Prestige Patisserie journey. Having previously worked at a renowned patisserie in Romania, she’s spent the last decade working in London amongst top chefs and bakeries, perfecting her skills. We both love to experiment with flavours, recreating classic recipes, but added our own unique twist.
8. Your speciality bake (we love tasting notes!):
It has to be our our cakes with a Romanian influence. Firstly, our Medovik – this was the cake that made Geanina want to become a baker. She first tried this in Moldova, a country between Romania and Ukraine. Although now a separate state, the country was historically a part of Romania. Burnt honey is the key to this cake, as it’s folded into the sponge to create six delicate layers. Dulce de Leche is slowly cooked for five hours and combined with sour cream to bring balance to the sweetness. Fresh honey and a touch of cinnamon softly brings out an irresistible nutty flavour.
Then, our Amandina – this is also a hugely popular cake in Romania, and grew in popularity since the 1960s. In Romania, we love the flavour of rum and you’ll see this feature in many desserts. The Amandina is no exception! The rich chocolate sponge is soaked with rum syrup. Filled with layers of Belgian chocolate mousse and finished with chocolate fondant.
Our Mountain Cake is next – this cake is called Carpati Cake in Romania, named after the stunning Carpathian Mountains. Made with delicate almond layers filled with a fluffy Belgian chocolate mousse, it’s covered with chocolate ganache and sprinkled with coconut. It takes some time to bake and assemble all of the layers, but the effort really pays off.
Last but not least, our Walnut Coffee Cake with flavours which take both of us back to our time in Romania. The combination of walnut, coffee and chocolate is famous in Romania. We don’t use gluten flour as the sponge is made with toasted walnuts and ground almonds. This is combined with a soft meringue between the layers. The nutty flavours are filled with a delectable chocolate and coffee mousse and topped with caramelised walnut brittle.
A small selection of the daily cakes and tarts at Prestige.
9. Favourite dish to eat:
We both love Beef Fillet steak with a delicious mushroom sauce.
10. Weirdest thing you ever ate:
Worms and crickets!
11. Favourite ice cream flavour:
For Geanina it’s coffee and George, chocolate.
12. Favourite family recipe:
Our slow cooked Lamb Shank. It falls apart by the time it’s finished and we always make it for good friends!.
Take home some cookies...
13. Favourite wine, any specific recommendations?
Geanina loves Merlot and George loves a Chenin Blanc.
14. Who would you most like to bake for?
We absolutely love sharing food with our loved ones, so friends and family.
15. And who would you least like to bake for?
Ahh, this isn’t our style. Cooking for people is a love language. We don’t dislike anyone enough to not share the joy of baking!
George with Geanina at their beloved Prestige Patisserie.
16. Favourite things to do when not baking:
Travelling. We love it!
17. Your latest project:
We hope to one day soon have a book.
18. Favourite city?
Of course we will say London! Since the moment we came here this city has given us so much love. It will always be special to us.
19. Your greatest indulgence?
Must be high quality, delicious chocolate
20. And finally, your all-time best baking tip?
Honestly, we encourage everyone to give baking a go as being hands on will teach you lots of skills, but the most important thing you must remember is to bring your passion and love. Baking is like art and art is love. We’re sure people can taste this in our bakes.
Photography: Jason Moore @jasonmoorephoto