The story behind Prestige Patisserie is both inspiring and heart warming. Husband and wife team George and Geanina Ursache, originally from Romania, moved to London in 2009. They moved to Tottenham in 2011 and have been part of the community ever since.
The couple opened Prestige Patisserie in October 2016 when they moved into the newly refurbished Holcombe Market.
Geanina has been interested in baking ever since she was a little girl, when she used to try to copy her grandmother by making bagels out of mud. During her childhood during the Communist period in Romania, her mother used to bake every Saturday for the seven children in her family.
She started attending baking school at 14 and then went to work for one of the best confectionery bakeries in their city in Romania, Iași.
Geanina explained how she was very grateful to them for giving her a job. ‘I washed so many dishes just to be there, to see how they did things. Because I worked hard they probably showed me more than the others.’
If it wasn’t for her experience growing up she thinks her wedding cakes would be very different. ‘I love moist sponges, nice fresh creams combined with mascapone cream with the freshest ingredients.’
Geanina said, ‘everything that’s in our shop is what we love.’ George added, ‘it represents us’.
They use high quality, natural ingredients in their products. George said ‘if you use the best you’re going to make the best.’
When they moved to London, George found a job as a general assistant at Flourish Craft Bakery, who were based in Tottenham at the time. When Geanina arrived a couple of weeks later she barely spoke any English. When she went for a job interview at the same bakery as George he translated. She made up for her lack of English with her hard work. ‘I worked so hard and I was so motivated to speak, to learn, to do things.’
They used to travel into work together and George would start an hour earlier than Geanina. She used the spare hour before her shift to study English every day. Geanina progressed to head pastry chef of her section within just a few months.
After a few years at the bakery George left and changed industries completely. A year later Geanina went to work for a restaurant in central London creating deserts, helping to build and develop her existing skills. Again she was quickly promoted from demi chef to chef de partie in just three months, and to senior chef de partie a month later.
During this time, they stayed on good terms with the owners of Flourish and after a year and a half, they asked Geanina to return. She declined at first, but after a month she asked them if the position was still open. Paul, the owner, told her ‘you are always welcome to come back.’ It was whilst she was driving to work that she started to imagine what it would be like to have her own bakery.
‘I was craving to make something with taste for our community. It was so difficult to go out and buy something delicious. I said to George, I’m ready. He is the one that always lifts me up and encourages me.’
Geanina asked George to help her to set up the business and he had originally planned to return to his job two weeks later. When he realised just how much work it would be for Geanina by herself, who would have to spend all day in the shop and all night baking, he decided to stay on full-time.
Geanina takes care of the production and bespoke orders and George runs the shop and the business side of things, he also learnt how to make high quality coffee to serve to their customers.
What’s really impressive about Geanina and George is their determination and energy. No matter what’s going on, they’re always there greeting the community with a smile. If they want to do something, they give it their all and push themselves to succeed.
‘This is our love, our gift to the community. It’s amazing… when we first started the community came to say hello, came to buy things, encourage us and support us.’ Geanina said.
They also have a regular stall on Sundays at Tottenham Green Market. Geanina loves being at the market and when she saw how the community came to celebrate with them every Sunday it pushed her to create even more.
The pair are so dedicated that in the first year of running Prestige Patisserie they didn’t have one day off. They had a short holiday in Italy this January and used that time to visit all the patisseries. It was there Geanina bought some tart cases which inspired one of her most recent creations – salted caramel and chocolate tart.
Geanina and George find inspiration for new products from many different places, taking on feedback from the community, in books, and Geanina’s childhood in Romania, often trying out news ideas in the shop.
Geanina takes recipes from her childhood, like their best-selling coffee-chocolate and walnut cake, and adds her twist or touch to it. Also focusing on great flavours. Another one of their best-sellers, the chocolate brownie cheesecake, is a combination of two of Geanina’s favourite things.
Last year for the Woodberry Wetlands Festival, they sold out of everything in the first day. ‘We had to come back home, call some friends and start baking.’ They baked all night long (getting just one hour of sleep) to ensure that they were able to serve their customers on the Sunday.
When asked what their favourite product was, they were unable to decide. ‘All are made from my heart.’ Geanina said.
They plan to expand the business in the near future and will have a new unit for their production, which they currently run from the living room in their flat. They will have a collection point for customers bespoke orders and plan to run classes for both children and adults and provide jobs for the community, whilst continuing both markets. Geanina said, ‘we’re very excited to open the academy classes… Our plan is to show people the joy of baking – how to make everything from scratch.’
This article first appeared in the Food & Drink issue of Discovering Tottenham which came out in March this year. Since this article was published, they have moved into their new unit in N15. They also won a 1-star Great Taste Award for their Salted Caramel, Chocolate and Walnut Tart.