Robert Haynes – from chef to world famous Sugar Artist
Robert Haynes, from chef to world famous Sugar Artist.
Today you are famous for your awesome sugar flower works, with a long path at the culinary world. Where/ when did all start?
I have spent the last 36 years perfecting my techniques through trial and error and repetition. In school I was often told off by the teacher for making tiny roses in Blu Tack underneath my desk, I suppose my career was already mapped out!
What was your first station at your culinary career?
I worked on each station at college, but my favourite and main interest was on the pastry section. My first job was grill chef at a specialist steak restaurant, before moving to London to start my career in the fine dining hospitality sector.
Who have been your tutors in this very special segment?
I am inspired by lots of people and things, I have bought many books of real & sugar flowers …I was first inspired by Alan Dunn his book was one of the first books I bought. How ever I consider myself to be a self taught teacher, spending years and years perfecting my techniques…and still learning every time I touch sugar. A lot of people inspire me, there is a lady in Russia whom I think her work is stunning hopefully one day I will attend a private class with her to hopefully pick up some different techniques nobody is that good they know everything so I always say this…go on as many different courses with as many different teachers as you will always pick up a bit form everywhere then mould your own style from within.
Within the sugar artist segment; you chose plants and flowers; why?
Being a bit of a loner as a child, I spent every lunch time tending and watering the various plants in the school green house. I came alive in rural studies, a subject I excelled at. I was mesmerized and captivated after growing mustard cress on a damp piece of cotton wool inside an upturned hard-boiled egg shell. Watching seedlings grow and developing their first leaves is fascinating in my view, there is nothing better than watching mother nature unfolding her beauty. I think there is nothing more challenging that trying to replicate a real flower in sugar…
With your own company Sugar Flower Studio you fully focus on your passion. What does Sugar Flower Studio offers?
I love to teach. I believe a true teacher should empower, and share all that he or she knows with each of their students… I love to see the sheer joy on every student face when they achieve results they never thought possible. It makes me immensely proud and nourishes my passion for teaching. Sugar flower Studio offers a calm and relaxing environment where students can come to learn a variety of techniques. I teach Private classes from 1 – 3 people, I provide a hot lunch, students come back time and again to gain more experience and refine their new found skills.
You are teaching Masterclasses, in the art of sugar flowers. How long are these courses/ does it take to get the a least the basic knowledge in this field?
It all depends on the students abilities, everyone takes new information in at a different pace, each person has a different ability to process what they are shown…I would advice a 4 day class would see a student well with going forward on their own to use the skills learnt in class. All procedures covered in class are transferable to other flower species. I take each student through a journey from start to finish on how to make a full plant covering all parts: closed buds, leaves, stems, full flower, colouring, wet glazing, assembly…
I assume lots of chefs would love learn this unique art; but are not able to participate your classes in London; what can they do?
I have online tutorial videos which can be downloaded from my website situated on the tutorials page. I highly recommend these videos, they take you through all of the stages used to make a whole plant species, each video is filmed to a very high standard. I recomend students to watch these prior to attending one of the Master classes to prepare them for my procedures which helps a-lot in my opinion. There are also 6 page floral tuition sheets which can also be downloaded from the Shop page.
What is your current master peace you are working on?
I am making a huge floral arrangement in sugar for a video blog for Mc Queen flowers. I will be filmed teaching the head florist at Mc Queens flowers how to make a Peony petal and leaf in sugar…then he will teach me how to make a bouquet of flowers using real flowers, something I am very excited about…
What was the most difficult object you ever created?
A wedding cake I made for my best friend 5 years ago, the cake stood 7.5 foot high and took 2785 hours to complete over a 14 month period. I also made the brides bouquet, matron of honours bouquet, button holes and table decorations. The cake was featured in many magazines with a 2 page article, everything I made was my present to the Bride and groom who are very dear friends.
You are an accredited demonstrator for the British Sugar Craft Guild: what is this organisation doing and what is your part in it?
The BSG is an organisation which encourages people to take up all parts of craft associated with sugar. It holds monthly branch meetings where I sometimes go and demonstarte my art for its members. They also hold a sugar show every 2 years, where there are competitions and traders selling their equipment and everything associated with sugar.
Currently you are working on your first book: when it will be finished/ available?
It is in the very early stages, so I have no idea yet sorry…I am struggling to find the time as this year I am in 10 countries teaching as well as teaching private classes from home..
What are the next projects in your mind?
I look forward to meeting and teaching new students. I will be working on expanding my botanically correct silicone veiner and cutter range, and will also be developing a new line of sugar craft tools, edible coloured dusts and my own brand of flower paste used to make the sugar flowers.