The Woman Behind The Chef: Julie Sharp

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th December 2016

In association with

HEADLINE SPONSOR westlands

In the build up to The Staff Canteen Live 2017 - supported by Westlands, at the Great Hospitality Show 2017, we are taking a closer look at the chefs who will be joining us on stage. 

We dig a little deeper to find out what they are hiding under those chef whites – next up is Julie Sharp, senior technical advisor for Barry Callebaut and formerly of Claridge’s which holds a Michelin star in the Michelin Guide UK 2017.  

Julie has worked in renowned kitchens around the world such as Claridges, The Mandarin Oriental, The Lyford Cay in the Bahamas and Chateau Lake Louise in Canada.  

Julie was awarded Pastry Chef of the Year from the Craft Guild of Chefs in 2004 while working as Executive Pastry Chef at Claridges. She has also become a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, as well as an Honour fellow of Westminster Kingsway College in 2016.  

Now Julie currently works as a chef and senior technical advisor for Barry Callebaut at their Chocolate Academy in Banbury.

Julie Sharp
Julie Sharp

What item of food do you hate cooking?

I really had to think hard about this as nothing springs to mind straight away but I always remember at college having to skin a rabbit and it was like taking its coat off and I felt really bad. It was then I knew that the pastry side was definitely what I wanted to do.

What food, if any, are you allergic to?

Dairy products and eggs, which is great for a pastry chef! But it only happened after I became a pastry chef.

>>> Read more in The Behind The Chef series here

What’s your favourite ingredient to work with?

Chocolate obviously, I love the way it is so versatile, you can use it in a 100 and 1 different ways and it is so complex as an ingredient, one cocoa bean has over 200 flavour molecules, we have only just begun to discover what we can really do with it. There is so much to learn about the growing and process of the cacao that I think this ingredient will keep me occupied for some time to come.

What’s your guilty pleasure food?

I am sorry for this but it has to be Foie gras, I know I shouldn’t like it but I think it is the creaminess in the texture as I cannot eat many products like that now.

What three ingredients would you take with you to a desert island and why?

Chocolate obviously, from Peru– great to eat in small quantities and it keeps you happy – chocolate has small quantities of amino acids that produce serotonin that give the feeling of happiness and chocolate has also been shown to be an anti-depressant, so I maybe alone on the island but I will still be happy.

Oranges – goes great with chocolate but also I love a glass of fresh orange juice in the morning to get you going for the day ahead.

Ready salted crisps- anybody that knows me would say I was lying if I did not put this down as it’s always my go to snack especially when there is nothing else to eat. Doesn’t sound that healthy but hopefully it would keep me going until I had my allotment sorted out.

If you weren’t a chef what would you be?

That’s a hard question as I always wanted to be a pastry chef, I didn’t really consider anything else, I just knew that was what I was going to do and I still love the job. Other people think about getting out of the industry and doing something else but I find it is more than a job it is a way of life.

What radio station do you listen to in the kitchen?

Radio 2 but if I’m really concentrating I like to put my own selection of music on.

What other kitchen would you most like to work in?

For me this is more about who I would most like to work with and even then this is hard as there are so many people I would like to work with for different skills. For chocolate work I think Melissa Coppel is woman of the moment.

Traditional cooking methods or modern techniques?

Can I say both? I think we all use both every day, tempering of chocolate has hardly changed from the moment it was invented and why should it, it works. So there are a lot of skills that are traditional but they have stood the test of time because they work. On the other hand I love it when somebody comes out with a new technique or a new way of being creative, I can’t wait to try it. So I think it is more about what is appropriate for the dish or the product you are producing, both modern and traditional can sit side by side quite happily in my world anyway.

Why did you choose to get involved with TSCLive?

I think it’s a great opportunity for chefs to come together and share ideas. I think in the past couple of years social media between chefs has really taken off and in the pastry world new techniques are getting shared daily, you used to have to wait for the chef’s book to come out to find out their secrets, now it’s instant. But I still think there is nothing better than being able to see the techniques done live and to be able to ask the chefs questions and share your experiences. That’s what TSC is all about.

>>> The Great Hospitality Show takes place on January 23-25 2017 and you can register now here 

>>> Read more about The Staff Canteen Live here

>>> Read more about The Staff Canteen Live 2017 at the Great Hospitality Show here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th December 2016

The Woman Behind The Chef: Julie Sharp