Calliope Anagnosti is a pastry chef and the woman behind Madame Gâteaux. Madame Gâteaux was born out of Calliope’s love for two things: afternoon tea patisserie and everything vintage! Madame Gâteaux comes to your home and organises a unique tea party in a 1950′s vintage style, for you and your friends to enjoy! Want to meet her?
1. your ordinary side: Sweatpants, sneakers, laptop, hair tied up in a ‘whatever’ knot.
2. your extra-ordinary side: Floral brocade dresses, crinolines, mink fur stoles, red lipstick, curled hair.
3. what do you brew in the pot? Right now? Darjeeling, the champagne of teas.
4. your most precious possession: My 1950s pink and beige bar with a glass front, which was bought from an antique furniture store in London, despite my partner’s attempts to convince me that no, you can’t use a bar as a desk, you have to be practical.
5. a luxury you owe to yourself and never abandon: I buy myself fresh flowers regularly. They cheer me up instantly.
6. a habit that can be translated into an obsession: Vintage 1950s taffeta full skirt dresses.
7. what can drive you to crime:Thank God it hasn’t happened yet, but if, let’s say, someone accidentally dropped and broke one of my teapots (my babies), I think I could kill.
8. a dream that visits you quite frequently: I do get my best pastry ideas when I’m dreaming. And I sleep talk about food all the time (or so I’m told).
9. your tiny tips on switching decades and reliving the 50s: Choose true vintage over fake retro-looking. Music always sets the mood. Invest in one or two key pieces of furniture and use the colour combinations of the era: pastel yellow, baby blue, mint green, but also petrol, mustard and olive green.
10. the soundtrack of your rat race:“Tea for two” sang by Doris Day, “Banana split for my baby” by Louis Prima and “How do you like your eggs in the morning?” by Dean Martin (I wish I could marry him.)
11. the dessert that your palate leads you to bake (over and over): I can NEVER have enough eclairs. If I was on death row, I would ask for them as my last meal. Pistachio, violet and coffee would be my flavours of choice and I would eat them in exactly this order.
12. who or what is your own “pinch of salt”? When you add a pinch of salt to a dessert, it brings out the sweetness and enhances the flavour. My mom, my partner and my closest friends are that pinch of salt for me. They help me prep for important events of my life and they bring out the best in me.
13. what is tea to the soul? Meditation!
14. do you cheat on tea with coffee? What a hilarious question! Let’s say that I do, but Madame Gâteaux never does.
15. your favourite tea flavour for the morning, afternoon and before bedtime:Black tea is, of course, great for the morning. Keep in mind that the way you brew your tea influences how much caffeine you’ll extract from the leaves. Longer steep times and hotter water yield more caffeine. Also, matcha, a powdered Japanese green tea, will give you an extra boost because you are consuming the entire leaves, rather than steeping and removing them. In the afternoon, when you kind of want to start decompressing, try a green, a white or an oolong tea. Before bedtime, you need something to relax you, so have a herbal tea. Chamomile and valerian have sedative properties, lavender is anti-stress and peppermint helps with stomach problems, so it’s ideal if you’ve overindulged yourself with a big dinner.
16. what is a proper afternoon tea “made of” ? On any english establishment, afternoon tea consists of a teapot with your tea of choice freshly brewed and a three-tiered stand, which has savoury finger sandwiches in the bottom, scones in the middle (served with strawberry jam and clotted cream) and a selection of pastries on top. A “celebration tea” as it is called, is a special occasion afternoon tea, which includes everything mentioned above, plus a glass of champagne -or “bubbly” as the Brits say- and a “celebration cake”, which often is a fruitcake covered with decorated sugarpaste. Of course, the variations and the possibilities are endless and Madame Gâteaux likes to cater to everyone’s taste!
17. which part of the tea ritual you enjoy the most: Seeing the look on peoples’ faces when they first see the table set with all my gorgeous cake stands and teapots and, of course, when they try the first bite of my cakes. All these years working as a pastry chef, I was locked up in a kitchen and had no contact with the customers. Madame Gâteaux has set me free.
18. what does tea really teach? Culture. Flavour. Etiquette.
19. were you a teapot, would you be brewing black or green tea, sweet or unsweet?Any real tea devotee (or should I say devo-tea?) will tell you that you should have your tea unsweetened, because everything else just covers up its flavour. Black or green or white tea is a matter of personal taste and it depends on the situation, the time of day, the company, the food, the environment, the weather.
20. how many teapots can someone have? They can never be enough, damn it. I currently own about 15. I plan to be buried with them, queen Nefertiti style (Neferti-tea! Yes, I did it again.Forgive me.)
21. the perfect cup of tea is:A freshly brewed cup that I will enjoy sitting on my favourite burgundy leather armchair, next to my fireplace, totally immersed in a book.
22. a question you always wanted to answer:Who I would invite as guests to my fantasy tea party. I have literally spent hours thinking about it. Who would yours be?
photography and interview by Gertrude Gary Milk, tea party preparation and vintage vibes by Madame Gâteaux!
(post created especially for teapot.gr)