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May 7, 2022

Part I The Canterbury Baking School with Victoria Feldman


In part I  we'll explore with Chef and owner Victoria Feldman. The top things to do in Canterbury, England. What led her to opening a healthy baking cooking school and what it's like to be a student at Victoria's school. In 2014 Victoria decided to share her passion for food with others and open The Canterbury Baking School where she teaches everyone from beginners to head chefs a passion for sourdough and healthy cooking.  

Connect to Victoria:  https://www.canterburybakingschool.com/about/

Connect to Voice4Chefs: https://www.voice4chefs.com/

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Transcript

Michael Dugan:

In this episode we'll explore with Victoria Feldman. The top things to do in Canterbury, England. What led her to opening a healthy baking cooking school and what it's like to be a student at Victoria school. In 2014. Victoria decided to share her passion for food with others and open Canterbury baking school where she teaches everyone from beginners to head chefs and she has a true passion for sourdough and healthy cooking Victoria. Welcome to the show.

Victoria Feldman:

It's really nice to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Michael Dugan:

I'm so excited that you're here. You're coming all the way from London, England, and I'm here in Seattle.

Victoria Feldman:

I live outside London. I am a Londoner. I was born in London, but we we live in Canterbury, which is by car, an hour and a half from London. So we're frequent visitors.

Michael Dugan:

And what is Canterbury like?

Victoria Feldman:

Canterbury is a Cathedral city. Yeah, it's quite pretty, maybe a little bit quaint in places. We have a lot of nice restaurants we live just outside the city in the countryside, a little converted Wesleyan chapel built in 1822.

Michael Dugan:

No, I had no idea and I don't think our listeners would would know either. So that's really interesting. So it's it's a Cathedral. City. Yeah. And how did you end up there?

Victoria Feldman:

I have quite a few kids and we just needed some more space and it costs so much less to live outside of London. You can get more for your money. That makes sense. Yeah, no, we love it now and we love that we can visit London when we need to.

Michael Dugan:

And so kind of understanding a little bit about where you came from. Can you can you tell us kind of what led you to this direction to starting a baking school. Did it start at an early age did it start? When did that happen? When did that transition happen?

Victoria Feldman:

Oh, it was interesting. I trained to be a teacher. I taught ceramics. Art was the thing that I was really interested in then. And then I sort of developed different areas of education. And I went through working in schools and doing education for the government and training. So I already had that ability to be able to teach other people skills. I also had the opportunity or 25 years ago or maybe a little bit more even. I had the opportunity to train under an Italian master chef in Germany. I learned really from the bottom up. And his passion was really to make healthy food especially my area that I had to concentrate on more was the bread that's really where my desire for sharing these skills that I had learned later on came from, and my foundation was quite a solid one and a thorough one.

Michael Dugan:

That's really no that's really great. I mean, I think being being mentored by someone that really, you know, has been it's their lifetime commitment and apprenticeship, mentorship. I think it's really important and, you know, there's a lot of people that don't get that opportunity. So it's really great that you did get that opportunity. I personally I went to cooking school and then I was mentored along the way. I spent about 10 years in the restaurant business. Yeah, it was it was grueling. It was tough, but I absolutely loved it. So as we call it, a love hate and you know, it's it's one of those things that that you do because it's your real passion. So, but I love the idea of ceramics because my mom is an artist. That's, you know, my wife shared with me that I'm an artist because I could, you know, and I studied to be a chef. I never thought of myself as an artist because I can't draw I cannot draw and my handwriting is horrible. But I can cook and I can create. So it's so interesting that ceramics to baking, you know to your baking school. That's that's fascinating, but also the healthy edge. But I also believe you're a vegan is that correct?

Victoria Feldman:

I'm not 100% I haven't been I've been vegetarian problems since the age of 18. That's really all I know how to cook and then I have also been involved in developing Plant base food menus. And again, looking at the health aspects as well because I personally believe that a vegan diet is healthy but you need to be able to balance your food and make sure you have everything you need. So you have to work a little bit harder. Vegetarian is much easier.

Michael Dugan:

For vegetarian for that style. How did you how did you start like what was the origin of you becoming?

Victoria Feldman:

I think as a child, I didn't like meat. And then as I got a little older I didn't like the idea of killing animals and I just wanted to try and eat food that didn't have meat in it. And when I got older it was much easier for me to do this. So I took myself to learn how to make vegetarian food. And this is going back a long time I then I'm a little bit compulsive about if I do anything I've got to really do well so I started buying books and we didn't have internet then and and just learning and just trying to to understand how to make it delicious and tasty. And yeah, it built from there really. And also when I was training, we were doing plant based food as well. And that was something else that was interesting as well as vegetarian because we were working with pizzerias and we were working in something called a reverse interest. A reform shop which is like a health food shop and working with whole grains are heard of that which is well this is something I do at the school. So what I've done is I've really taken what I have learned and about I then offer this experience to the students or the chefs or bakers that come to my school to just get an understanding of how to make something really from scratch, how to be more simple in their way of preparing food. So when I was training, we would mill our own grains and we use heritage grains. And this is replicate at the school. So understanding a little bit, the science behind why we do it, the reasons for doing it and the health benefits and the effect. It has on your taste buds and, and the bread. Whatever you're making is just amazing. And is full of life. Because it's just so healthy for you.

Michael Dugan:

Yes, that sounds like a hidden secret to you know, that was one of the underlying curiosities and questions I had for you? The healthy baking it was in the back of my mind. It's like how do you create such healthy baking and you just answered the question. That's that's what most people want to know. But you were fortunate in that growing up and turning to vegetarian to being a vegetarian. I mean, you learned a life habit early on that most of us have to break that habit. And that's hard. You know, I grew up with European cooking and cream sauces and and all kinds of meat and chicken and and all these different foods and and it's hard still for me to break it. My wife does a much better job than I do. But she keeps me in line which I'm so grateful for. What inspired you to move from teaching and risk at all and open a baking school?

Victoria Feldman:

Okay, so I just thought about what I could do that I would really have a passion for and it always felt that the work I did was I could never quite be myself and give everything that I wanted to give to people because I was always working for somebody else. And yeah, I think it was my husband who said well, why don't you just put together the skills you have and do something you love. You know if it doesn't work it you just do something else. So go back to teaching I almost they kept the job open for me. Yeah, I just thought let's go for it and it was a learning curve for me because I'm not a natural business woman. I believe that I'm very good at what I do. So you could say I have a very good product and the combination of being a teacher and an inspector an understanding really, how to help people learn in the correct way and then having also the ability to be able to make the foods putting the two together. I thought this is going to be success. And rather, yeah, I was rather than naive because I really went for it. And I didn't realize that at that time my passion took over that you needed to have a good foundation also of business skills. You need technical skills, you need to be able to market you need to let people know you're there. And this I lacked and I think it was also quite expensive in as much as you do put money into a business. And for the first couple of years. We did not get really any money back from the business. It was a learning curve. But I just carried on. And then I turned the corner. And yeah, something that I can look back on and just be grateful that I've come through it that I didn't give up.

Michael Dugan:

Yeah, that's, you know, for me even as a podcaster it's something where my real passion and purpose is there. But it takes a lot of work. There was a time I was gonna give up. And then you know, I just I decided nope, I'm gonna keep going. I really want to share these stories

Victoria Feldman:

And to learn from your mistakes as well. Like, you know, especially the business, that side of it. And yeah, I have got a little team now and I delegate I guess your side to someone else. But I have also learned myself what needs to be done so I can direct the people that work for me and have control of the business so that has helped me a great deal.

Michael Dugan:

What would it be like if I came in as a student? What would I experience in your classes? Just visualize what it's like to come in and learn from you.

Victoria Feldman:

I would say a lot of people find that they have fun, which is always very nice. So we we do keep it light. But you would firstly mill your flour while you start so you would have the option to possibly mill to different grains and make two batches of dough depending on what you're making. And so everything is made very much from scratch. Whatever you do, you would start with your grains and you would end up with the finished product. So you would go through all the stages of making for instance, sourdough bread, or artisan bread or pasta and you would also eat the food as well. And have enough to take home with with recipes. So it's the whole experience. We do sourdough over two days. And we do our other workshops over one day and the training for bakers is really a month to week depending on you know we tailor make it to suit the needs of the people that are in school. So we have a lot of people who come just for a day class or we have bakers who are training for a month. So yeah, it's a variety

Michael Dugan:

I wasn't thinking that you'd be training a baker that's that's incredible. Yeah,

Victoria Feldman:

that's also very, very nice. And I have I have such lovely people that come to the baking schools.

Michael Dugan:

So here's the question. People that come to the baking school, who is your favorite student?

Victoria Feldman:

Oh, that's really hard to say. Oh, really hard but

Michael Dugan:

I have heard about the qualities of a good student.

Victoria Feldman:

Well, I can just say that I had a young woman who came from Michigan, I think. Yeah. Yeah, she came for a month. I mean something about her was so encouraging for me because everything I showed her to do, she did with such expertise. And something I am very passionate about is attention to detail. And she had that attention. And it was just a joy for me to see somebody learn so quickly and develop so fast so not I wouldn't say she was my best student because I enjoy nearly all of them. But she was here late summer with me last year and yeah, I miss her. She was so so good. That I think she does stand out for me as as just a joy. So that was a lovely experience.

Michael Dugan:

So tell us a little bit about your experience in clubhouse. How long have you been on? And what's it been like? Who have you met what what kind of things are you up to on clubhouse?

Victoria Feldman:

Okay, so I suppose about February. Almost a year I think time goes very fast. Or it was during lockdown. And I thought okay, I need some help with my business. How can I learn more, and somebody introduced me to clubhouse. And so the rooms that I went into all rooms about how to market your business how to use Instagram. That's sort of finding that professional way forward, which I knew that I I liked. And it was very interesting. I went into various rooms and I went into one room and I met this man called Jason Hodge. And Jason just took time with me. And he explained things and I had a few dilemmas. And he directed me and everything he said I tried to that you know was relevant. I tried to implement and it is because of him that I have employed two members of staff who worked for me, and it's just been so nice. And I think for him it was also nice because a lot of people give up a lot of time on clubhouse. And I actually listened to everything he told me to do. And it's been really rewarding because he's seen my business grow. And it has been really through through his help. So this was the first one and then I thought, Oh, I wonder if that any food is platform. I then came in contact with a group called culinary cousins. Oh, and they are in Alabama, San Francisco and I'm not but they're mostly in the USA in the US. Yeah, and all they are lovely. I have been just so welcoming in this group. They have been just so yeah, since they're very vibrant group. And it's a very different way they weren't run the club house. But it's a lot of of talking and just supporting and then from there. I thought I'm going to search a little bit further and see if I can find anybody who talks about a passion of mine, which is gut health. And the whole I found food is religion, and that Dr Bahow. And he spoke about gut health. And I was in the audience and I put my hand out and he was talking about fermentation and I said hey, I make sourdough. And I have a school and I teach people have been doing this for many years to meet. That was my introduction and Chef Mimi was on there and I didn't realize it was even her room but yeah, and it was I was listening and I would join every week and hear him talking. And also during this time I was doing a lot of research myself just trying to learn more to and and after a little while that Chef Mimi was saying you should do a room on sourdough. And, and that's when I started I did this room on sourdough and now I'm doing two rooms with them for them and she said to me, Hey, is there anyone you'd like to work comod with you? And I thought about Jason Hodge. I am really, really happy I do these two rooms with Jason and there are other doctors we've got Dr. Rashmeed who's actually a plant based Doctor herself. And yeah, it's grown from there. So my I've moved away a little bit now from the business rooms I'm I'm just sort of very involved in this food is religion. I have my culinary cousins that I just love to join them. And also it's quite unique that this food is religion on clubhouse. Is like a community. And you also Yeah, and chef.

Michael Dugan:

I'm gonna read chef Mimi, she's a good friend of mine. She helped me how can I say this? I keep giving her a shout out on the podcast but I'm going to do it. She's become a great friend. She's become an inspiration. She's probably one of the reasons I haven't quit podcasting, because I felt so connected and so inspired. And I just and we're doing things together, you know. Right now we're doing a pre recording podcast but right now on Saturday we're doing a cook along.

Victoria Feldman:

So you meet these precious people. I know. I must say, you know it is just a joy. And it's grown from there really? And I like to support the group as much as I can as they support me. So I think yeah, I think that's sort of been my journey. I've been in and out of other rooms and I've done a few talks for for other clubs, but I think food is religion. And my culinary cousins at the moment are my yes special groups.

Michael Dugan:

Oh, that's fantastic. So as we go along take us back to Canterbury and what top three things would you do if you're visiting Canterbury?

Victoria Feldman:

I suppose you'd go to the cathedral because it's just full of history. We've got a black knight buried there and and also very near we have Dover castle. So even though Dover is it's next door Canterbury has quite a few nice restaurants and it is a was a walled city. So there is some remains and yeah, it's I think it's just nice to walk around or we have some nice gardens. Yeah, it's quite a nice, a nice place to live. And it's very accessible to lots of places