The Swiss are renowned for precision and the award winning pâtissier Xavier Pelloux is no exception.
And while this may add a few extra hours to the processes involved in making his Continental style treats, he says the difference in the taste, texture and appearance is well worth going the extra mile.
Customers at Gloucester Services certainly agree and have been voting with their feet since.
Leckhampton based Contemporary Cake Designs began supplying sea salt caramel tarts, chocolate tarts, lemon tarts, raspberry eclairs, fraisier cakes, opera cakes, colourful macaroons and a wide range of other goodies to the motorway services station.
Working as a pastry chef and chocolatier is a way of life for Xavier, 38, who began learning his trade when he was a teenager.
By 18 he had an impressive range of qualifications and left his native Switzerland to travel the world, working in New York and some of the UK’s most prestigious restaurants and shops, including Maison Blanc, The Ivy, The Hilton in Park Lane and Harrods. In fact he was working in the famous Knightsbridge store when he met his wife-to-be, Barbara, known as Bee, who worked in the decorated cakes department.
Xavier’s training equipped him to execute every aspect of the pâtissier’s art, including creating stunning croquembouches and exquisite wedding cakes, all of which are finished to incredibly high standards.
Xavier’s career began at a bakery/pastry shop around the corner from his parents in Switzerland.
“My mum used to take me there as a child and I loved the strawberry ice creams they served,” he says. “I started my apprenticeship at 14: school had never really appealed to me. I had the basics but it was when I started a holiday job at my local bakery that things started to make sense.
“Fourteen was an unusually young age to be apprenticed and so I began with a pre-apprenticeship with the support of my parents. This meant that I was a fully qualified as a pastry chef before I was 18.
“Working abroad allowed me to develop my skills and work with some of the best people and finest ingredients.”
Xavier and Bee moved to Gloucestershire in 2005 to set up their own business specialising in wedding cakes, for which they created a kitchen that met their exacting standards.
“We built the kitchen from scratch; people thought we were nuts,” laughs Xavier. “I did the painting and tiling myself; our child had barely been born.”