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BBC Creme de la Creme winner Helen Vass calls on restaurants to offer ‘special occasion’ desserts

By Hannah Thompson , 06-Feb-2017
Last updated on 06-Feb-2017 at 13:01 GMT2017-02-06T13:01:50Z

BBC Creme de la Creme Helen Vass restaurant special occasion desserts

Helen Vass, pastry chef and one third of the winning team in the first Bake Off: Crème de la Crème, has said that restaurant menus should feature ‘special occasion’ desserts, as they make guests feel more welcome, and help secure repeat bookings.

Serving visually impressive desserts can make restaurants feel more like ‘destination venues’ to customers, Vass said, and entice nearby tables either to order a special dessert for themselves, or rebook the restaurant in the future for their own special occasion.

Colourful cakes, chocolate additions, and even simply piping chocolate messages of congratulations or birthday greetings onto plates, were all suggested as ideas to make desserts more celebratory.

Vass, who is head pastry chef at the 35-cover, two AA-Rosette Number 16 restaurant in Glasgow, and ambassador for chocolate producers Callebaut, also suggested coming up with new and different ideas regularly to keep guests coming back.

Pre-frozen desserts can be especially useful during a busy service, as they can be prepared in advance, she added.

She said: “I think it’s really important to have a special occasion dessert offering so that the guests feel special.

"Being the only pastry chef in the restaurant, I have to forward plan. We look at the reservations list on the day of service and if we see that there are any special occasions — such as birthdays or anniversaries – in the comments section, [so] we’re able to take each element of the dessert from the freezer, defrost in the fridge and serve them the same day."

She added: “When we send out the special occasion desserts to our guests, it creates a really special moment for them. They’re more likely to remember their visit to the restaurant and hopefully they’ll come back again in future.””

Vass, along with Mark Tilling and Samantha Rain, won the first ever series of the professional pastry chef spin off to The Great British Bake Off, The Bake Off: Crème de la Crème 2016, judged by high-end pastry chefs Claire Clark, Cherish Finden, and Benoit Blin.

Previously presented by two Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, the next series of the Bake Off is set to be hosted by comedian and presenter, Angus Deayton.

Ahead of the first series, Blin stated that the BBC show would encourage more pastry chefs to step into the limelight.

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