9 of the most exciting pastry chefs in the UK

9 of the most exciting pastry chefs in the UK

by Lauren Fitchett23 November 2023

From plant-based baking pioneers to up and coming stars, we've put the spotlight on just nine of the most influential pastry chefs and bakers in the UK.

9 of the most exciting pastry chefs in the UK

From plant-based baking pioneers to up and coming stars, we've put the spotlight on just nine of the most influential pastry chefs and bakers in the UK.

Lauren is a food writer at Great British Chefs. She joined the team in 2022, having previously been a food editor at regional newspapers and trade magazines.

Lauren is a food writer at Great British Chefs. She joined the team in 2022, having previously been a food editor at regional newspapers and trade magazines. She is based in Norfolk and spends most of her time trying new recipes at home or enjoying the culinary gems of the east of England.

Lauren is a food writer at Great British Chefs. She joined the team in 2022, having previously been a food editor at regional newspapers and trade magazines.

Lauren is a food writer at Great British Chefs. She joined the team in 2022, having previously been a food editor at regional newspapers and trade magazines. She is based in Norfolk and spends most of her time trying new recipes at home or enjoying the culinary gems of the east of England.

Whether they're mastering the intricacies of bread and pastry or putting the finishing touches on picture perfect desserts, pastry chefs' creations need more than a dash of precision, artistry and patience. But it's fair to say they have, at times, been an under-appreciated part of the restaurant kitchen, perhaps thanks to a lack of understanding about what they do and less visibility in the media. Thankfully that's fast changing, and the spotlight is now shining full beam on the talent in restaurant and bakery kitchens. 

Here, we've focused on just nine of the most exciting pastry chefs and bakers currently working in the UK – some might be familiar faces, while others are stars on the rise, but together they highlight the variety in their world; there are chefs designing elegant fine dining desserts, leading the country's most popular afternoon teas and perfecting signature pillowy pastries in their own kitchens.

Sarah Frankland

Having set her sights on becoming a chocolatier as a teenager, Sarah Frankland's first part-time job was in a local chocolate shop. She went on to gain Michelin level experience with Angela Hartnett at The Connaught, before joining William Curley as a commis chef, rising through the ranks to later become its head pâtissier, and Yauatcha as head pastry chef. In 2016, she moved to Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa in Surrey as its head pastry chef and was last year promoted to executive chef, a less traditional route reflective of her talent. As well as celebrating the diversity in chocolate's flavour and refining cherished childhood classics, Sarah, who was a finalist in Bake Off: The Professionals, focuses on balance in desserts, teaching her team that sweet dishes also need acidity, salt and texture. 

Graham Hornigold

Chef Graham Hornigold is at the top of his game, having spent over twenty-five years sharpening his skills at the likes of The Park Lane Hotel and Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, where he learnt under Lisa Crowe. He was executive pastry chef at The Lanesborough Hotel and joined the Hakkasan Group in 2011 as a consultant, overseeing pastry sections around the world. Today, as well as running wholesale pastry businesses, he's also – with fellow pastry chef Heather Kaniuk – behind the Longboys doughnut brand, which has two shops in London and serves up brioche finger doughnuts filled with everything from lemon meringue pie to raspberry rose lychee.

Phil Khoury

Phil Khoury grew up in Sydney, beginning his career as an apprentice pastry chef at Peter Gilmore's Quay, one of Australia's most celebrated restaurants. He worked at Shangri La Sydney, ending up as its head of research and development, before moving to London in 2018 to join Harrods as a pastry sous chef, rising to head pastry chef three years later. He has appeared on Bake Off: The Professionals, and is building a following in particular for his focus on plant-based baking – his book A New Way to Bake takes classic recipes including apple pie and sticky toffee pudding and rethinks them using vegan ingredients.

Anna Higham

Though Anna Higham's career began in architecture, her love of cooking soon drew her to the kitchen, with early stints at Bread Street Kitchen and Pétrus in the capital and Gramercy Tavern in New York. After returning to the UK, she led the pastry section at James Lowe's Michelin-starred Lyle's in Shoreditch and became group head of pastry in 2019 when sister restaurant, bakery and wine bar Flor opened. In 2020, Anna joined The River Café as executive pastry chef and has since published her cookbook The Last Bite. She's now preparing to open Quince Bakery with Paris Barghchi in Islington, where she'll bake sourdough breads made with UK-grown stoneground flour, yeasted buns, oat cookies and wholegrain palmiers.

Andrew Gravett

Andrew Gravett is a master in his field, overseeing one of the most famous afternoon teas in the capital as executive pastry chef at The Langham. He moved to Normandy for a four-year apprenticeship as a teenager, honing his craft, before working in Michelin-starred restaurants including The Capital Hotel, where he became head pastry chef after a year. After, he worked around the world for chocolate producer Vairhona before (after a brief stint out of the industry, working as a taxi driver and at a ready meal factory) taking on the role at The Langham in 2017. Since then, he has cemented its – and his – reputation for creating world-class sweet treats.

Nokx Majozi

After finishing her culinary training, Nokx Majozi worked in hotels and resorts in her native South Africa, before moving to Miami and London, where she took on roles at The Intercontinental Park Lane, The Landmark and Brown’s. It was in 2014 that she joined Rosewood London's Holborn Dining Room and where, at its Pie Room, she first fell in love with the art of pie-making, charmed by its creativity and working alongside former executive chef Calum Franklin, who left in 2022. Today, as senior chef and head pie-maker, she has continued to cement its reputation as a shrine to golden, glossy pies, building a reputation for the intricate patterns and designs she creates and fillings which celebrate the flavours of her upbringing. 

Helen Evans

Having taken on roles around the world, including at bakeries in Melbourne, Lima and Paris, Helen Evans worked alongside Anna Higham at Flor and later took over as head baker. There, she focused on building relationships with UK-based farmers and millers, sourcing organically-grown, soil-friendly wheat, before it closed at the start of 2022. In 2023 she opened her first solo venture Eric's Bakery in East Dulwich, where she is continuing to champion UK-grown wheat from low and no-input farms.

Darcie Maher

Choosing a career path comes easier to some of us than others, and for Darcie Maher the decision was made early. Having known she wanted to be a baker since childhood, when she left school she began building experience at the likes of Flour Water Salt in Macclesfield and The Palmerston in Edinburgh. In summer 2023, Darcie was ready to go it alone and, thanks to a partnership between Chloe Black (of Edinburgh Butter Company, with which she had previously worked with on a croissant recipe) and The Palmerston co-founders James Snowden and Lloyd Morse, she opened Lannan in Edinburgh's Stockbridge area. There, she blends traditional techniques with modern flavours, with signature bakes like her croissant tarts making queues a common sight.

 

Bomee Ki

Pastry chef Bomee Ki was born and raised in South Korea, first moving to London to study her Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, from which she graduated in 2010. Between returns to South Korea, Bomee worked as pastry chef at the Arts Club in Mayfair and, in early 2020, opened her debut restaurant Sollip near London Bridge with husband and business partner Woongchul Park (the pair met while studying at Le Cordon Bleu, reconnecting after they had both graduated). Their menu marries European and Korean cuisine, blending their cultural heritage with their classical training.

These pastry chefs are just a handful of those showing what's possible in the UK, focusing on artisanal methods and pioneering techniques and bringing deserved recognition to their work.