With The Great British Bake Off once again starting on our screens, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with Ian Douglas, our Pastry Chef here at Churchill.

Although not a fan of GBBO himself, preferring instead to watch crime shows and the occasional episode of James Martin’s Saturday Morning when he’s not baking 200 desserts at a time, Ian does have a connection to the show. In October last year, as part of a career development initiative in the College kitchens, he attended a 6 week patisserie course at the Leith’s School of Cookery in London, which was founded by GBBO judge Prue Leith.

When asked about what he learned on the course Ian said “it wasn’t so much about learning new skills, but more about picking up new ideas and getting the grey matter working again. I made strudel pastry which I’ve not done since college, but instead of more traditional fillings like apple we filled it with feta and fig. That’s become a popular one at home!”

With just eight other members on the course, from established chefs and bakers to those at the start of their career, Ian and his fellow attendees now have a WhatsApp group that they use to share ideas and ask for advice. When asked what his favourite thing to make is, Ian found it hard to choose. “I like making bread, and during term time we make fresh bread in College every day. But I also really enjoy making lemon tarts with a really thin pastry and lemon custard, but it was a very different experience on the course making one at a time compared to the numbers I make here. Sometimes I can go through 200 eggs for one dessert!”

Although we haven’t been able to convince him to make us a croquembouche (yet), Ian did prepare for us a plate of macarons, meringues and brownies worthy of any star baker. We think Prue would be very impressed.