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Nikolay Peronski, Pastry Chef

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Pastry Chef Nikolay Peronski

Now it’s time to meet a true talent in the kitchen. Pastry chef extraordinaire Nikolay Peronski…

We come by our interviewees in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s word-of-mouth, other times they approach us directly. And then there are those that we come by via social media. Such as Nikolay Peronski, pastry chef at The Noisy Lobster in Christchurch. We found him and his amazing pastry and dessert creations on Instagram, and just had to know more about him and his story…

WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY? WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO BOURNEMOUTH?

I am half-Russian, half-Polish; my father is from Russia, my mother from Poland. I grew up in a military camp in Poland, and basically the circumstances of life forced me to change country. There were too many bad memories. My partner died, which was the trigger. Eleven years in a relationship; there was nothing left for me there. I was quite depressed and I thought, “I need a change”.

So, when I was at a party with all my friends, we had a map on the table. And I said, “I’m going to close my eyes and point at a country, and that’s the country I’m going to go to.” I pointed exactly at Blandford Forum. It was quite funny, but I believe it was fate, because within one month there I had a job and accommodation. That was in 2012. And so I said, “Okay! I’m going! I’m leaving!” I sold everything I had left, and on 23rd September 2012, I was in Blandford, which is where everything started.

WHEN DID YOU DECIDE YOU WANTED TO BE A CHEF?

That was around 20 years ago, when I was 17. When I was a little kid, I always used to help my mum. I had tiny fingers for making cakes and mixing flour. Flour likes me; it likes my hands. My first cakes and desserts, I made them when I was around nine or ten. And since then, I knew I was going to be doing something to do with cooking.

I did some college and then university. In Poland, becoming a chef is very different to how it is in England. In England, you can go from off the street into a restaurant and they could give you a job. It’s a process in Poland. You have to do three years of college, pass the exams. You do it in stages — hot section, larder section, and so on. Basically, you start on pot-wash and go up and up and up. Then, if you want to be a head chef or sous-chef, you need to go to uni and study it. It’s not so easy, and it took me a long time. And once I had done all that, I chose to be a pastry chef. When I was 17, I started my first real job.

TALK ME THROUGH YOUR CAREER — WHERE WAS YOUR FIRST RESTAURANT?

My first job was in a French hotel chain called Accor Mercure. It’s not that well-known in the UK but I have seen a few up north. I was trained by a French pastry chef. Very old, very boring behaviour with a hard personality. But he taught me a lot. By this time, I had already chosen to be a pastry chef, because sugar and everything worked so well in my hands. Even my head chef told me, “You’re going to be quite a good pastry chef in the future. Because you’re patient.” And since that day, I’m covered in flour, eggs and butter all the time!

In Poland, being a chef is not a well-paid job, so I went through a few restaurants there. I have worked for Italian chefs, French, Bulgarian; I’ve also travelled a lot in Italy and Greece. Cooking with chefs in Sofia, Samokov and Plovdiv in Bulgaria. Quite interesting experiences. Also in Moscow, because my dad knew people who I could stay with. And then, when I decided to be a head chef, I found a restaurant in my hometown. But that unfortunately was at the time when the unemployment crisis started. It was really hard to get a decent job. I decided I had to everything because I had no choice; I couldn’t just concentrate on just pastry. But I’m still in touch with my bosses from before and we have really good memories. It was a really busy restaurant in the middle of my hometown, which is very touristic.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD PASTRY CHEF?

I am always saying, “Every pastry chef can be a chef, but not every chef can be a pastry chef.” Pastry is a very difficult and complicated section in the kitchen, because it is mostly chemistry, physics and maths. In the hot side of the kitchen, you can put a burger on the grill and just cook it. With pastry, it’s different. The ingredients, the measurements, the timings. I never found things like carving meat very appealing. But I remember working with sugar, making caramel, making sugar sculptures — that was my thing because I could express myself.

In terms of what qualities make a good chef, I would say patience, for sure. Also organisation, and a heart for cooking. You have to have a heart for cooking. If you don’t, all the anger or the lack of enthusiasm will be on the plate and it’s not going to taste good. After nearly 20 years in this industry, I can say that if you don’t like what you’re doing, stop. You have to love your job — I love my job more than anything in this world and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love the rush, I love it when it’s busy, when you’re getting sweaty. That’s the kind of thing I love.

JUDGING FROM YOUR INSTAGRAM PAGE, YOU ARE A MASTER AT FOOD PRESENTATION. WHAT IS YOUR SECRET?

First of all, you need to have the idea of what you want to do. And then with plating, I don’t think about it, to be honest. I do that when I’m serving the dish. It all comes out when the check comes in. My brain works on that high a level. I don’t try to plan or predict how I’m going to plate the dessert; it gets done in the moment.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A PASTRY CHEF?

In the beginning, I thought of being on a television programme like Great British Bake-Off or something. But I did that. I passed all the stages, went up to London to do the cook-off with Cherish Finden. I’ve met Mary Berry. I passed everything, but in the end I decided that that’s not me. I’m not a celebrity chef. Cherish Finden contacted me recently, actually, asking me to think about it. Maybe I could do next year’s series. The problem is, financially, it’s very hard to do. It’s five weeks of filming, and in that time, who’s going to pay my bills?

I have already met Cherish Finden, who is one of the top pastry chefs in the world. It was my dream to meet her; she’s someone who’s very important to me, professionally. Now, I would like to open my own pâtisserie, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be in Bournemouth. We’ll see — I’m going to wait until I’m fifty and have enough money.

TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF NIKOLAY’S DESSERTS

If you like the look of Nikolay’s work and want to see more, check out his Instagram page here. And for more amazing and inspiring stories from the people of Bournemouth, take a look at our Humans section.

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Hannah Elkins, Musician

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Musician Hannah Elkins
Photo courtesy of Hannah Elkins

Ahead of releasing her first single, we had a chat with musician Hannah Elkins. Where did her journey in music begin and what are her hopes for the future?

Dividing her time between the hustle-and-bustle of London and the Bournemouth music scene, we were lucky to have a few words with musician and singer Hannah Elkins. As she goes to release her first single, it seemed like a good time to hear about her beginnings in music…

ARE YOU FROM THE BOURNEMOUTH AREA?

Yeah – I grew up in Bournemouth. I studied at Leeds University, and then came back to Bournemouth, before moving to London last summer. But most of my life has been spent in the area.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DECIDE THAT MUSIC WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?

My mum is a singer herself. She’s very musical and runs a choir in Bournemouth. So, in a way, I had no choice. I grew up singing and it was just what I knew to do. But it was really at secondary school that I realised that it was what I wanted to do for a career, and what I went to study at university.

DO YOU MODEL YOUR STYLE ON ANY ARTISTS IN PARTICULAR?

My favourite artist is Lianne La Havas. She has very delicate, beautiful vocals, with quite hard guitar sounds. For me, it was the first time I had heard that kind of contrast in music, which I fell in love with. Another one is Jessie Ware. I just found out that she was classically trained, and I studied classical singing at university. I think that’s why I love her stuff so much – you can hear she’s just got this amazing voice in there. She’s a huge inspiration to me.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FIRST GIG…

I started writing my own music probably quite late in comparison to others. A lot of them, you hear they started writing when they were 12. For me, that didn’t happen until I went to university. Because I studied classical singing, and then I went for a year abroad in the Netherlands to learn to play piano. And it really changed my perspective of music and how I wanted to approach it.

So I started sitting at the piano and writing my own stuff. And then when I went back for my final year at Leeds, I just thought, “I’ve got to do this!” Took a lot of courage, but I booked my first gig at Hyde Park Book Club. Lovely little intimate venue – it was actually quite terrifying because it was so intimate. We had about 70 people in this room. I just rocked up with my notepad (with my lyrics on it) in one hand and my little keyboard and sat in front of these people, who were the most attentive audience I’ve ever had. And that was it – I was hooked.

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING FIRST SINGLE…

It’s called After the Midnight. I don’t have a set writing method with any of my music. Normally, I’ll find this idea, work around it and build the song, but with this one, I had just a chorus – two lines and two chords that I knew I loved. Had no idea where I was going with it. Even when I stepped into the studio, I didn’t have the song in full! Bit risky, I know, but I like a challenge. I don’t know if I’d recommend it…

So, I worked with my friends Elliot Wenman, who plays guitar, and Niko Battistini, who is a Bournemouth-based producer. With those two, I created this song.

When I started writing this, I had started a different mind state of how I wanted to write. So, it was included in a couple of other songs I had written. There was the theme of this midnight, the stars, the universe; it just fit into this collection that I was working on at the time.

WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO LAUNCH YOUR SINGLE SPECIFICALLY IN BOURNEMOUTH?

I am really excited to come back and do the launch here. That’s because After the Midnight has been a collaboration with a lot of Bournemouth musicians and artists. The artwork was done by a girl called Amy Leonard, who is studying at the Arts University. She’s done some brilliant artwork for me. Plus the photography has been done by Alice Parmenter, who’s also Bournemouth-based. And then, as I mentioned earlier, the production from Niko. There’s such talent in Bournemouth, and that’s where this single has come from.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE BOURNEMOUTH MUSIC SCENE?

In Bournemouth, there is this real market of music-lovers. There is something called Sofar Sounds, which is run in Bournemouth. I performed for them a couple of years ago, and then I volunteered for their team afterwards. It’s a brilliant event where they basically get three acts and take them to an intimate venue. Audiences can apply for tickets, and they don’t know where the venue will be or what the lineup is until they’re emailed a few days before. They tell you at the beginning of the gig that they want you to pay attention to the artists and give them that respect, which I think can be lost in some of the bigger venues. London, for example, can be slightly saturated.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A MUSICIAN

Ultimately, it’s to write music that people can relate to and want to listen to. As long as there’s someone there who is listening and says that they like it — that’s the dream, really.

Read more amazing and inspiring stories from the talent of Bournemouth in our Humans section. And find out more about Hannah on her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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Stephanie Wyatt, Miss Earth 2019

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Learn more about Stephanie Wyatt, 19, from Dorset, as she has been crowned the new Miss Earth 2019…

At the end of last month, Stephanie Wyatt was crowned Miss Earth England 2019 at the Arden Hotel in Birmingham, sponsored by Millennium Balti in Leamington Spa. She got in touch with Humans of Bournemouth with full details on her story and what it’s like to be “Miss Earth.”

WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES AS MISS EARTH?

As Miss Earth, I will be representing England on an international platform of millions of people around the world. Since I have also been rewarded with the title of ‘Beauties of a Cause Eco-Ambassador’ for my accomplishments, my duties include working with environmental, eco-activities and other social causes.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVOCACY?

My main aim is to advocate the preservation and restoration of Mother Earth. From a young age, I remember being exposed to the harsh reality around me and knew I had to make a change. When I found out that I could make a difference, I knew I had to carry on doing what I was doing.

DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A STIGMA ON PAGEANTS?

Despite the stigmas, Miss Earth is different to your everyday beauty pageant. It is an environmentally-focused competition. A platform for change. For example, one of our challenges that was judged was to create an “eco-warrior” outfit. I decided to make mine completely out of real flowers. I believe that we are sending out a message here, showing the public that we all have a responsibility to preserve and attend to what the world we live in needs. Which fights against any stigmas.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING TO THE MISS EARTH FINAL?

I am extremely honoured to be put in the position to attend the final. Which is the third-most prestigious platform in the world to represent England. I’m also privileged to meet so many like-minded women. I’d like to thank the Miss Earth England organisation and I hope that I will do my country proud. This really is a dream come true for me.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PROJECTS BESIDES FROM MISS EARTH?

I want to be socially and environmentally responsible for our earth. That’s why I created my own project in 2017. I investigated how I could tackle the world’s second-largest polluting industry, which is clothing. I thought of several ways to reduce this problem and also need those in need at the same time. That’s why I decided to aid those whom are struggle with period poverty. My first steps to making a difference were deciding to set up workshops at my local library, where the public could donate their unwanted clothes. Once generous individuals had donated, I was then able to up-cycle them into re-usable sanitary wear for girls in Kenya. This can make a big transformation on a girl’s life in Kenya since they can go to school now in comfort and not have to worry about their period getting in the way of their education.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO DURING YOUR REIGN AS MISS EARTH?

I hope to set up a lot more like-minded projects, similar to what I have done before. I’m particularly interested in helping Third World countries; they are one of the main reasons why I put my heart and soul into the work I do.

Find out more about the Miss Earth pageant on their Facebook page. And for more inspiring stories about the locals of Bournemouth, Poole and surrounding areas, check out our Humans section.

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Jack Lenton, Personal Trainer

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Personal Trainer Jack Lenton

Meet Jack Lenton. His lifestyle is his career. As a personal trainer, he owns his own business and is able to train clients worldwide.

Learn more about how he decided to become a personal trainer and how his passion for fitness began. Jack also desires to help others develop their own career in the fitness industry…

ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM BOURNEMOUTH?

No, I grew up in the south of Somerset. Then I decided to go to Exeter University, so I lived there for a while. After that I lived in America for 18 months. I’ve lived in Bournemouth for the past year. My girlfriend lived here, so it made sense for me to move here with her.

WHAT DOES YOUR PROFESSION INVOLVE?

My day-to-day job is mainly online coaching and training. I also employ people to help with my business and coaching — I love being able to give people the chance to do what they love as a job. We mainly coach one-to-one sessions, giving the clients personal advice on themselves and how their body works and what suits them. Nevertheless, we also coach in groups as well; they don’t tend to be any more than 40 people. An individual’s ability determines what group they are put in. As a group, they will be supported as much as possibly needed.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO FITNESS?

Fitness was the only thing that kept my attention; I didn’t really enjoy school. All my efforts went into fitness and sports instead of education. Therefore, when choosing a university course, exercising science caught my eye. It was the only course that for fulfilled my desires at the time.

WERE YOU INTO SPORTS AT SCHOOL?

Of course! It wasn’t weightlifting or strength training — I was too young for any of that. I tended to play more standard sports such as football, basketball and I tried a bit of trampolining. As a kid, just being active was my priority. Fitness has always been a key aspect of my life.

WOULD YOU SAY YOU LIVE A STRICT LIFESTYLE IN TERMS OF FITNESS?

I have made my fitness lifestyle strict because that is the how I prefer it. My mental and physical health has improved by working out daily. Although it never limits me in terms of my lifestyle, since I enjoy it so much, it’s more of a hobby than a chore.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO START SEEING RESULTS ON YOUR OWN BODY?

I was looking at photos of myself the other day. From when I was about a year into my training and my body was so different. It took me about two years to see a massive progress. For a long while, I wasn’t very sure on what worked on my body type in terms on fitness wise. I found that, I noticed what I was doing wrong before finding what I was doing right. Over the years, I’ve increased how much I train. Before fitness and training was part of my daily routine, I was working out about five times a week. My personality is quite addictive, so that certainly helped keep myself on track.

IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT TOWARDS YOUR CAREER AS A PERSONAL TRAINER?

Social media makes a significant impact on my career since it allows me to coach worldwide. My personal trainer career is no longer restricted to local people; because of social media, anyone can reach out to me. It also benefits me in terms of meeting like-minded individuals from anywhere and everywhere. Those who share the same passions as me and are part of the fitness community.

WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL?

Right now, I hope to carry on what I’m doing and making money from it. I also hope to keep employing more and more people for my business. This means I can help them gain experience and earn money from doing something they love as a career, just like me.

Don’t forget to check out Jack’s Instagram and website to learn more about his coaching!

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