Mark Tillings – Friday 17th March 2017
I have been working for over 25 years as a pâtissier and chocolatier in an industry which I have a great passion for. I remember from a very early age watching both my grandmothers making sweet things and from as early as that I always knew I wanted to work in this area.
For my first job, I worked at a local hotel at the weekends in the pastry kitchen which I loved. My best memories of working there were the New Year’s Eve buffets we made; we could really go to town with them and make all kinds of pastries. I was only 16 and this was where I met a very dear man, Martin Nash, who would have a huge influence on my life and career throughout the years.
Throughout my career I have worked in many hotels and restaurants including The Lanesborough on Hyde Park Corner in London, Lainston House Hotel in Winchester, Hotel du Vin Group in Winchester and Bristol and the Pave D’Auge in Normandy, France. I have also cooked for several well-known figures including President George Bush Sr., Cher, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex to name but a few.
I have received many awards for my chocolate and pâtisserie work over the years: I have earned many gold and silver medals for my desserts and petits fours, as well as double gold for my chocolate showpieces. My highest achievements, however, have been winning the UK Chocolate Masters competition from 2006 to 2008, and coming 12th in 2007 and 7th in 2009 at the finals of the World Chocolate Masters. It was such a great honour to be able to represent the UK.
After these accomplishments, I was made a UK Callebaut Chocolate Ambassador which is a position I have held for the last five years. I now work as a Senior Tutor at the Squires Kitchen International School in Farnham, Surrey. I have a great passion for teaching and enjoy passing on my skills to all kinds of people. I teach a range of classes from chocolate and pâtisserie, to 5-day chocolate and baking schools and demonstrate every year at the Squires Kitchen Annual Exhibition.
In 2010 I accepted the great honour of making the 200th Baddeley Cake for the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, a tradition that dates back to 1794. The cake was based on the musical Oliver! which was running at the time. I am a regular contributor to Cakes & Sugarcraft and Squires Kitchen Bake School magazines as well as the author of two books, Squires Kitchen’s Guide to Working with Chocolate and Squires Kitchen’s Guide to Making Macaroons (B. Dutton Publishing).
In 2016 my team of three (myself, Helen Vass and Samantha Rain) took part and won the title of “Bake Off Crème de la Crème” an eight part series on BBC Two to find Britain’s Best Team of Pastry Chefs.