Beth Coombes, Pastry Chef, The Green House Hotel

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th June 2018

Beth Coombes is the pastry chef at the Green House Hotel in Bournemouth.

Beth Coombes is a pastry chef at the UK's top eco-friendly hotel - The Green House in Bournemouth, providing pastry and dessert creations to guests and diners at the 2 AA Rosette Restaurant - The Arbor. 

As pastry chef for The Green House Hotel in Bournemouth, Beth is responsible for creating everything from their acclaimed 'Afternoon Tea' to making freshly-baked bread, all within the stylish but sustainable setting of the UK's top 'eco-friendly' hotel. 

The Staff Canteen caught up with Beth to talk about how baking with her nan has helped shape her career, her culinary style and why the ultimate partner with cake has to be a cup of English Breakfast Tea!

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One of Beth's creations

What attracted you to a career in pastry?

I have always been mad about baking and then I realise that I could get paid for making cakes all day, so that's what I did.

I've always been a pastry chef. I started as a pastry commis and worked my way up.

Can you talk us through your role as pastry
chef at the Green House Hotel?

I design the desserts menu, ice cream, bread, everything fresh and a daily changing Afternoon Tea offering. It is intense but I enjoy it.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
Organising myself and making enough bakes - I like to make individual items and need to make sure that I have enough time to make them.

Info bar

Restaurants worked

Green House Hotel
Monty's Lounge
Harbour Heights Hotel

Signature dishes  

Sticky toffee banana bread
Peanut butter parfait
Salted peanut praline

Top dessert that they would take to a desert island

Banoffee pie

Do you have a favourite flavour combination and if so, why?

Oh, I have so many!  My top three would be rhubarb and custard, chocolate and salted caramel and banana and toffee.  Toffee and caramel are literally my favourite things ever.

Do you have a favourite signature pastry?
I'm really into cheesecakes - based, raw, layered. any.

Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

I look at all my store ingredients and try and think of as many different things to do with them as possible. I love new ingredients, so I have something new, I'll make as many things as I can to see what suits it best. I also love thinking about what I'd like to eat, then I make it.

What is it about pastry that you love?

I love the number of things that you can make out of so few ingredients. Flour, sugar, butter and eggs mixed in different amounts in various ways is amazing.

You have previously described the Green House's culinary style as "old-school classics given a modern and unexpected twist" - does this apply to your pastry creations too?Absolutely, I love taking a classic dessert concept and giving it a modern makeover. Classics are there for a reason.

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One of Beth's creations

The Green House is renowned for being incredibly eco-friendly. How important is this to you and how does this ethos apply to your kitchen?

Sustainability is incredibly important to me and one reason I'm proud to work at the Green House. We're big on recycling and take seasonality seriously. My favourite time is spring.

Your Afternoon Tea is very popular - what do you typically include in this and can you give us some insight into how you prepare for service?

I try and make things that people wouldn't regularly make at home. Almost always is a doughnut because they are my favourite. I also like to make cheesecakes, meringue pies and sandwich biscuits. I will look at the bookings for the week and then plan something different for each day. It's nice that returning guests won't get the same thing.

What sort of tea compliments an Afternoon Tea the best?

It has to be a good English Breakfast tea - I'm an absolute tea-aholic and there's nothing better than tea and cake!

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Afternoon Tea

Why do you think Afternoon Tea remains so popular?

It's a great way to meet up with friends or family and spend a leisurely afternoon catching up. It's what my friends and I would do. 

Are there any areas of pastry that you would like to learn more about?

Probably chocolate. I am not a huge chocolate eater, but I could definitely learn more.

What do you consider to be the biggest achievement of 
your career so far?

I think to see the popularity of the Afternoon Tea over the years and seeing how it has grown. People must be enjoying it (I hope!)

Would you advise young chefs to choose to specialise in pastry early in their career or to try other areas of the kitchen?

Well, I always knew I loved pastry but I went to university and studies all areas of the kitchen, but I was only every interested making pastry professionally. I like to cook at home, but at work, it's all about baking.

Why do you feel pastry is such a specialised area?

It's very 'sciencey' you have to understand the processes in order to progress and understand bakery. And patience! You have to be super patient and organised.

https://www.thestaffcanteen.com/public/js/tinymce/plugins/moxiemanager/data/files/Mocha Meringue Pie in The Arbor Restaurant   Copy.JPG
Mocha Meringue Pie

Do you remember the first thing that you ever baked?

Probably welshcakes with my Nan. She was always baking something and I always wanted to help. She also had a loganberry bush, so we would make crumbles with that too of a Saturday afternoon.

Do you have a favourite patisserie book that you like to use?

I write all my own recipes now but still reference others who inspire me. I love a Nigella recipe. Tom Kerridge is a good shout and Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets is an amazing read.

Do you pay close attention to trends within pastry?

Absolutely, but it is also important not to follow the crowd and make what feels and tastes right.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th June 2018

Beth Coombes, Pastry Chef, The Green House Hotel