Graham Sutherland is among the top patisserie and chocolate chefs in Europe.
Born in Blairgowie, Graham has travelled to locations across the globe — including Paris, Munich and Miami, to name a few — over the years, working at a line-up of award-winning and Michelin-starred restaurants along the way.
London’s The Savoy and Hotel Haus Paradise in Switzerland are among them.
But in the early days of his cheffing career, he had roles at Banchory’s Invery House and The Marcliffe Hotel and Spa.
Graham returned to Banchory last November — his “old stomping ground” — with a goal in mind. This was to inspire the next generation of patisserie chefs.
The rise of Sutherland’s Pastry and Coffee at Inchmarlo Golf Centre
“I worked at The Marcliffe for four months,” says Graham as we chat about his homecoming. “Restaurants were definitely where I found my passion.
“Ross Spence [managing director of The Marcliffe] is a good friend of mine and his dad [Stewart] was my first boss. Without him, I probably never would have got going.
“I’m a Scot and I’ve always loved home. It was always in the back of my mind to come back at one point. It seemed like the right time.”
The pastry chef then went on to open Sutherland’s Pastry and Coffee, based at Inchmarlo Golf Centre, in April.
Graham and his team serve up some of the finest patisserie, baking and savoury treats in the north-east.
The team includes Sofia Middleton, who heads the business’ marketing, commis pastry chef Olga Bündz and coffee shop manager George Crooke, who Graham went to school with at Banchory Academy.
The pair are avid skateboarders to this day.
Graham added: “I was looking for a production area to do chocolate production and set up classes, but they (Alexander Burnett and his dad) offered me this place.
“I looked at the view, car park and kitchen and said ‘alright, we’ll do this.’ It’s unique and there’s so much parking. It just seemed a good fit.”
Graham to ‘nurture next generation of patisserie chefs’ at Banchory’s The Pastry Academy
Graham has spent the past six years lecturing, as well.
One location he visits is Banchory Academy, teaching home economics pupils basic kitchen skills and cake decorating.
“I’m trying to find future chefs,” Graham says as I sink my fork into one of the handcrafted patisserie from Sutherland’s.
“There are no pastry chefs for miles and chefs are a dying breed.
“It [lecturing] is what I love doing. I love my job but there’s nothing better than showing people how to do it.”
Earlier this month, Graham launched his new business enterprise The Pastry Academy.
It offers a series of patisserie classes (for up to six people) at Inchmarlo Golf Centre. They are open to people of all cooking and baking abilities.
More on the classes — which are available to book online…
The Pastry Academy classes, to date, include an introduction to modern macarons, creating your very own luxury chocolate bar, and modern chocolate pralines.
These are designed for beginners.
Options aimed at children and young people include budding chocolate heroes and make and create your own chocolate bars.
For those aged six and above (plus their families), there is also a Christmas baking and decorating class, which has already sold out, as have spaces for the modern chocolate pralines.
Prices range from £25 to £95, while times range from 90 minutes to three hours.
Future classes will be announced in due course.
Graham said: “I want to give everyone the opportunity to learn something completely different, whilst having a bit of fun.
“There are absolutely no barriers or rules on who can attend the classes.
“They’ll take a lot of people out of their comfort zone — whether you’re a mum who wants to understand how chocolate works, someone who wants to be a pastry chef, or a dad who just wants to make something fancy for his wife.
“Eventually, I’d love to have more space [to host them].
“It could be an external space in Banchory and chef demos would be hosted too.”
Sofia added: “These would be top international chefs and experts from the likes of Miami.
“Graham’s mission is to nurture the talents of the next generation of patisserie chefs because there is nothing up here to support that or introduce the concept.”
For all information regarding The Pastry Academy and its current and future classes, visit thepastryacademy.co.uk. Gift vouchers are also available.
You can also read Karla’s latest articles in the P&J’s Food and Drink magazine, which you’ll find inside your Press and Journal newspaper every Saturday.