Interview with pastry chef, Ashley Jacot de Boinod

Ashley Jacot de Boinod Glory Hole Doughnuts

Follow Ashley at @doughnutmistress and @gloryholedoughnuts.

What do you do?
I am the owner and pastry chef of Glory Hole Doughnuts.

How long have you been in this field for?
I have been in the hospitality industry for 16 years and have been doing doughnuts for six years now.

What inspired you to pursue this career?
I come from a large family and food was our connector in a lot ways. When I was a kid, I learned the basics of French cooking from my grandfather who was a big inspiration. I also remember my grandmother making bread with my brother and I still remember the smell of it. So when I was thinking about what I wanted to do, it kind of brought me back to that childhood treat. Also, I just like working with yeast. It fascinates me in how it can transform something from nothing.

What was the biggest hurdle in attaining your career goals?
I think that being a woman added to the challenges during the construction phase of the shop. It was all men who I was hiring for the contractor team and there was a sense that… I felt that they took advantage of the fact that I didn’t know anything about construction, and they ran off on me towards the end of the project. They didn’t complete it. That was definitely a big hurdle I faced.

Another initial challenge—and it’s still a journey I go through—is with staff. People absorb language in different ways; so when I say something to two staff members, one will take it very differently than the other. It can lead to mistakes and potentially conflict.

What do you like most about your work?
I love connecting. Whether it’s with staff or customers, I think food is our greatest connector in life! As cheesy as it sounds, food for me can build community, confidence and can help in bad times—as a therapeutic tool. If someone is struggling with mental health or addiction, cooking can help people in their therapeutic journey. So for example, there’s a program from George Brown, it’s an augmented chef program, and we do an annual fundraiser that I’m a part of every year. I took on a student from the program, and I have seen it firsthand help this person through working at the shop. It helps build confidence.

What do you find most challenging about your work?
I’m not a fan of people wasting food or complaining about not getting a particular flavour. I guess I wish people knew more where food comes from—where it’s grown, how it’s processed and what it takes for someone like me, who makes one thing really well, and take them through that process. It’s really hard for me to see food waste. Luckily we usually sell out, but if we don’t, it gets donated to the community centre across the street.

If you weren’t a pastry chef, what would you be?
A food anthropologist.

Name one hobby you have that’s not related to your work.
Distance cycling. I was working at Artscape and my boss at the time had done a ride from Toronto to Montreal [for PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally] and I thought that it was really inspiring and I wanted to do it one day and challenge myself. So as the shop progressed and I was able to disconnect a little from it, I decided to get a road bike and start training for that eventual goal. I just really fell in love with it. This specific cause is also very near and dear to my heart now. It helps people in Toronto living with AIDS and HIV.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Hug my fur babies [dogs] and husband.

And last thing you do at night?
Same as above.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy your work?

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