By Daniela Degrassi
This week I am so honored to share my interview with Bee Berrie, the shining star of UK vegan baking. The brains behind the best Jammie Dodgers in London, Bee Berrie is an ex-microbiologist who swapped the world of bacteria for baking six years ago. Since then Bee’s Bakery has been named one of the top five biscuit bakeries in London and is known for her bold, eye-catching bespoke cookies and wedding cakes. She Bee has baked bespoke cookies and cakes for clients including Topshop, Adidas, ASOS and Stella McCartney; she has appeared personally on BBC TV programs; and her work has been published in many publications including the Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Stylist Magazine, The Evening Standard, The Observer, Stella Magazine, the Guardian and Red Magazine. Not to mention her ongoing collaboration with chef Jamie Oliver. Bee is a regular teacher at the Jamie Oliver and Divertimenti cookery schools and her plant-based baking focus is unique amongst the UK’s baking alumni.
Bee, what made a microbiologist swap career and become a baker?
Well, I am a real scientist at heart, but I was working for a large communications agency, and i felt like a cog in a machine, and i didn’t want the future that the more senior women i was working with, had. I had worked in catering and in kitchens whilst i was a student, and i had a fledgling idea of creating a biscuit/ cookie company, as the market in the UK was saturated with cupcakes at that stage. I took a sabbatical from work to test the idea, and hated every second! I was selling personalized cookies from the back of a beautiful re-purposed Italian 3-wheeled van at markets across London, in the depths of winter. I’d gone from working in a team of 60, to a team of one, and i found the transition extremely hard. So i went back to work, sold the van and tried to knuckle down…but the flicker of being my own boss wouldn’t go away.
Did you develop an interest on vegan cakes from the beginning?
I’ve always been interested in different ways to work with ingredients – from blending my own gluten free flour, to using unusual ingredients as substitutes with health benefits. I started transitioning to veganism, and opening my eyes to the harm that the diary and egg industries cause when i became pregnant, and this naturally transitioned to my business. I’ve been working hard on my vegan cake recipes ever since, and i truly believe I have some fantastic recipes that stand up against their cows (breast) milk containing recipes!
Tell us about your experience as a regular teacher at Jamie Oliver and Divertimenti cookery school.
I love teaching and take every opportunity that i can, on YouTube, on Instagram, and in real life. I love showing people, that it is absolutely not necessary to bake using parts of animals – there’s just no need. I taught a combination of cake and cookie recipes last weekend at Divertimenti, and next weekend I’m teaching vegan brownies at Jamie’s.
You published two books already, what are they focused on?
These books came about several years ago – one on cookies and one on cakes. Both non-vegan, but I’m working on some plans to do a vegan baking book!
Can’t wait for that! And what do you think will be the vegan wedding cake trends in 2019?
I honestly think that the trend is already moving towards weddings with minimal impact on the environment, which includes cutting out things like single-use plastic, and a plant-based menu. I have been working hard on the idea of a low impact wedding cake – made from local, sustainable ingredients, with no carbon footprint, i’m so excited about this!
What’s next for Bee’s Bakery?
I feel that I have a responsibility to produce cakes in a future-sensitive way, and I’m being very single minded about this. Its almost the start of a very busy wedding cake season for us in the UK, so I’ll be making cakes every weekend until around October time…I’m also teaching lots more, and working on growing my YouTube channel, so I can share more recipes with a wider audience.
Above, a selection of tasty flavors Bee combines to create her bespoken wedding cakes.
Bee Berrie has a growing YouTube channel which I encourage you to subscribe to for continuos tips and recipes. She regularly speaks, teaches and demonstrates at conferences, meetings and trade shows, on vegan baking. Follow her on Instagram to get constant updates on her whereabouts.
A feminist and independent spirit since she could remember (her childhood heroines were Pippi Longstockings and Katharine Hepburn) Daniela Degrassi found her creative outlet as a lifestyle photographer, working mainly in Northern California where she lived for 15 years before moving back to her native Italy to continue to be her autistic sister’s primary caregiver. Vegan since 2014, she found a perfect way to carry her message of compassion while celebrating her love for the wedding industry launching The Kind Bride in February 2018.