“My job is creating happiness”
Simon Veauvy trained as a pastry chef in Paris, New York, Seoul and Tokyo before finding his true passion in a Sydney bakery. The 37-year-old Frenchman describes his work at AP Bakery as “creating happiness”, but he had a rough start, as Wendy Hargreaves discovers.
Q: You’ve worked as a pastry chef in some amazing places around the world. Where did it all start?
A: I started at 15 years old as an apprentice chef at a two Michelin star restaurant in France. I was extremely passionate and loved it all, but 20 years ago it was a very different environment in restaurants, and it broke me.
It was insane, like being in a bubble. There’s so much tension, like being a slave, but nobody talked about it because we were scared.
Looking back, I don’t regret any of it, as it builds your resilience and makes you so much stronger. I also learned how to do everything in the traditional way, and that’s in me. It’s in my DNA. I’ve got a passion for doing things the right way.
But at the same time, I don’t wish it for anyone, and I’m so glad it doesn’t happen in kitchens today.
Q: What kept you going?
A: I love to create things with my hands and know all the specifics… why, how, fixing mistakes, understanding why things f*ck up. Creating. There’s always something to learn.
But it’s a hard industry because you have to put all of your soul into it. And you’re always adapting. Always updating.
You have to do this job for the right reasons. You can’t do it to make lots of money or build an empire. It just won’t work. It has all come from your passion for food. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to speak to your customer with passion.
I see my job as creating happiness. We can give people a good moment in their day. That’s why I like it.
Q: How did you make the transition from old-school kitchens?
A: I’m old fashioned and I know it. Sometimes I’m a bit annoying because I want things to be done certain ways, and people don’t understand the old ways anymore.
So the challenge is to surround yourself with the right people. They need to be curious with a great attitude. You can see it in how they communicate, talk to peers and take criticism.
Q: Finding staff is a huge problem. How do you find the right people?
A: It’s like being a magnet. If you do a good product and you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you attract both customers and employees. Passionate people won’t come to a business if you’re not passionate about it.
I approached AP Bakery because I could see they had a passion behind the product. They work directly with farmers and mill their own grain and have a passion for doing things better. That’s what attracted me.
If you love what you’re doing, you’ll attract people who love what they’re doing. Then the sky’s the limit.
Q: You’ve worked in so many cities around the world. Is Sydney now your home?
A: Yes. I’m now an Australian citizen. My wife Nicole is Australian. Our two kids are Australian. It’s a great place to live, and AP has three busy locations and a market, so there’s plenty to do.