Great to see this feature write up in the September edition of The Journal. Thankyou to author Natalie Murphy
Macaron man has the recipe for success : A former builder has launched a new career in the kitchen making his version of dainty French delicacies
When Tony Patrick wanted to put his cooking skills to the test, he went to the top. The former designer and builder has received praise for the macarons he had been making from family, but he wanted feedback in his version of the dainty French delicacy from culinary experts. So, last year, he made a batch for the team at award-winning Hull restaurant 1884 Dock Street Kitchen, who he had got to know well since he and his wife, Jane, held their wedding reception there in 2012. “My joinery skills came to the fore and I made a wooden box with a glass lid to present them in” said Tony, of Anlaby. “I told them I had big shoulders and to be honest with their feedback. I needed honesty. But the staff couldn’t believe I’d made the macarons and that a commercial chef hadn’t made them. They were very impressed and placed an order. And they still have them on the menu today.”
It was a turning point for Tony, 52, who then decided to pursue his love of cooking professionally, setting up Patrick Macarons and Patisserie last year. “I’ve been a frustrated cook all my life” said Tony, whose creative skills stem from his previous work as an exhibition designer.”I’m a big foodie and love trying new things in the kitchen.” The idea for macarons came from watching cookery programmes on TV. Tony said:“They look unbelievable when they are all lined up in a patisserie window- it’s almost an excursion into fantasy. They are so neat and pretty with an array of colours.” He found a recipe for macarons, a meringue-like treat and decided to give them a go. “That was a couple of years ago and they turned out fine, but was determined to perfect them,” he said “They are a monumental faff and labour-intensive, having to get the mixture just right and pipe the shells so they are exactly the same size, before carefully sandwiching them together; its alchemy in a form. The aim was to refine them until they were good enough to hand out to family and friends.”
Once he’d achieved a high-quality product, Tony needed to find out whether there would be enough demand to make a viable business. Research told him there were no other macaron makers in the area and he approached other dining establishments in East Yorkshire – The Westwood and Vanessa’s in Beverley, The Star @ Sancton and Drewton’s, in South Cave – who all placed orders. The Deep, in Hull, has also included the macarons on its corporate dining menu. He also decided to try selling them directly to the public. “I tried out a little village market to test the water and ended up selling lots,” said Tony, whose children, Laura, Niamh, and Jack, often help out with the business. “It was there that a fellow stallholder recommended the Humber Bridge Farmers’ Market, so I enquired and took a stall there last May.
“In the past year, it’s been phenomenal. It has such a large turnout every month is beautifully run. Each stall is carefully selected so there is no duplication and there’s a real mx of great producers selling high-quality products. Everyone is passionate about what they do. it has helped build a demand for my macarons. I’ve got to know my customers and they come back every month to see me. I’m even getting orders through word-of-mouth from the market, for wedding favours, birthday gifts and tea parties. I already have orders for events next year!”
What started out as “a way of making a little pocket money” has turned into a full-time business for Tony. Word of his macarons has spread far and wide. He now supplies a Michelin-starred restaurant in Liverpool and delivered a batch of macarons to London for a hen party.He also has wedding bookings for next year and 2017. However, it is the local markets and his home where he prefers to be, spending his time in the kitchen perfecting colour combinations and the 30 flavours he offers. “I use all natural colours and try not to use synthetic flavours – the only one I do is Parma Violet,” says Tony. “The most popular flavours are Black Forest gateaux and salted caramel. The Black Forest has a chocolate ganache filling with Kirsch and s drizzled with white chocolate. I make the salted caramel myself with condensed milk and Himalayan sea salt, which takes about four hours. I also do Pina Colada, mango, peanut butter and jelly and apple pie flavours. Although taste is important, so is the presentation, as people see the macarons first. I try to match the shell colour to the flavour and mix and match. I’ll never stop exploring new combinations.