I’ve been in business for most of my life. If I worked for someone else for 7 years altogether, that’s probably it! In the late 80s’ I started my first company which was a High-end Fashion Boutique for Ladies, located on St Joseph Boulevard in Gatineau (formerly Hull), Québec. I carried big designer names such as Mondi, Marcella Priani, Le Truc, and so on as well as some very expensive lingerie such as Chantelle, Lejaby, Filodoro, etc. I also designed some clothes with my label on them.
It was quite an experience and I was blessed to have amazing ladies working for me. They worked very hard to make my boutique a successful business. Often, I was doing fashion shows and they were there helping me with them. During this time, I met a woman named Lisette who was the agent and promoter for the late Alys Robi, a popular singer from Québec. She worked as well for me promoting my store through different events. She eventually got me a spot for one of my fashion shows at The Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. We did it during day time in the Zoe’s lounge throughout Afternoon Tea, packed with ladies enjoying their three tiered plates and sipping their favorite tea while watching my models walking in between tables showcasing the clothes from my store.
After we wrapped everything, I promised myself that one day I would return there to enjoy this British tradition. Sure enough, a couple of years later just before I officially moved to Toronto, I went there one afternoon with a friend, sat in the lounge and ordered some tea and a three tiered plate filled with sandwiches, scones and other sweet treats. This is when I first experienced these traditional English mid-afternoon tea time food items… scones… those little cakey breads. They weren’t sweet as the British served them along with jam and clotted cream… definitely the real deal! Later on, I had the North American version and they were surprisingly sweet compared to the British ones!
When I was running my event planning biz in Toronto, a lady hired me for her charity funding occasion. She wanted this to take place during the afternoon with something simple, yet elegant. I suggested a traditional afternoon tea served with what I had in Ottawa. She agreed and I went off to search for a caterer as well as a pianist, florist, etc. The event was a success… well almost because many of the guests had a real British afternoon tea experience prior to this event and unfortunately the caterer didn’t deliver the “right” scones.
There is a huge difference between British and North American when it comes to scones. Recently I gave them a try and I was pleased with the results but here was the dilemma – would my scones be a hit with the British or with the North Americans? David loved them and so did my friends… now that was a success to me! I served them with my Strawberry Butter along with petite sandwiches, a few one-bite sweets and a wide variety of tea. My “get-together” event was a success. Now if you will excuse me, I have a tea party to attend… Bon Appétit!