Award-winning chocolatier and pâtissier Lucie Bennett tells the story behind Fleur De Sel
PUBLISHED: 16:59 24 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:30 27 February 2014
Lucie Bennett, an award-winning pâtissier, concocts her chocolate creations from a country kitchen in Henfield
Fleur De Sel is based in a stunning country kitchen in Henfield. The company was founded by award-winning chocolatier and pâtissier Lucie Bennett.
“It all started for me 10 years ago at Westminster Kingsway College, London,” says Lucie. “I studied a two-year patisserie scholarship that was a work-based course, allowing me to study in blocks while being able to gain experience in the workplace. I absolutely loved it,” she adds. “I used to count down the days until college, as it combined the excitement of going to London with the enjoyment of learning new tasks.”
After spending time working at the Grand Hotel, Brighton and at Jeremy’s Restaurant, Borde Hill, the opportunity arose for Lucie to go to London.
“I went to work for William Curley, one of the UK’s leading chocolatiers. That is where I refined my skills as a pastry chef. I also got to experience working with chocolate and teaching both patisserie and chocolate courses to the public. I spent just over four-and-a-half years working with William, which was an invaluable experience. The skills learnt at college coupled with work experience gained from such well-reputed establishments have given me a great platform to build my business.”
Lucie founded Fleur De Sel in April 2012. “I decided to move back from London a couple of years ago so I just went for it. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my friends and family. The business has grown very organically, lots of my work is through word of mouth. The inspiration to call the company Fleur De Sel has come from the strong French influence from my training and work experience.”
Last year Lucie won the Celebration/Novelty cake category at The Cake Awards 2013, which is a national cake competition celebrating the best of British cakes. “It was a fantastic award to win in the business’ first year. It has really helped spread the word of Fleur de Sel nationally,” explains Lucie. “At the moment there are about eight core cake and chocolate-based products that we make. I make a lot of bespoke chocolate celebration cakes and occasionally cater events. I’m always trying to innovate and create new products using premium ingredients. Due to the complexity of some of the products it takes time for me to go from an idea to an end result – creating a new product is like going on a journey.”
Lucie’s most popular products are her Florentines. “They are also one of my favorite products to eat. They are made from a chocolate sable base topped with an almond and cocoa nib Florentine dipped in Amedei 70 per cent dark chocolate. They are definitely the best seller at the moment,” describes Lucie. “I have also made endless amounts of cakes, averaging one wedding or celebration cake a week. I have already had several bookings for this year.”
It takes time to create such magnificent treats. “The cake that won the award has several different components, so it can take up to 12 hours to produce,” says Lucie. “It consists of a rich dark chocolate sponge layered with salted caramel and coated with an Amedei 70 per cent dark chocolate ganache, encased in a dark chocolate shell, decorated with chocolate frills with gold leaf. I love designing bespoke chocolate cakes as I get to use my artistic flair. I studied a two-year Art Diploma at Northbrook College, before training as a chef. I enjoy taking inspiration from fashion, places and things I see.”
This will be a big year for Fleur De Sel, with many exciting things in the pipeline, explains Lucie: “I will start expanding the business and I would love to distribute my products in London. I am also currently collaborating with a local filmmaker to do a series of cooking videos.”
If you would like to sample some of Lucie’s delicious delights, visit www.lbfleurdesel.co.uk
She also supplies The Hungry Guest Shop in Petworth with chocolate products and cakes, Pallants of Arundel and Just Scrumptious, Handcross, seasonally.
Fleur De Sel, Henfield , West Sussex