Portrait #11 : Jennifer Hart-Smith
Portrait of a naturopathic pastry chef who reinvents the culinary art.
If there's one person who never runs out of cooking ideas, it's her! Renowned pastry chef and naturopath, Jennifer welcomed us in her workshop and apartment,
to taste her famous floral biscuits: how can one not melt? Her passion for nature and her creativity immediately won us over.
Discover her unique French-Australian cooking style.
Hello Jennifer ! Can you tell us about you and your Tookies Gambetta adventure?
Welcome to my workshop! I founded Tookies when my daughter was born six years ago to make personalized and flowery shortbread. A former graphic designer and webdesigner, I devoted myself to baking in order to find a link with craftsmanship. Then, when my son was born, I started a naturopathy course to refocus on health and the environment. Having children has had a detonating effect on me!
Where does this passion for naturopathy come from? How do you share it?
On my Australian father's side, everyone in the family has a certain sensitivity to art and nature. My uncle Brent Harvey is a naturalist painter, my grandfather William Hart-Smith was a poet and my grandmother Patsy was a health educator. So it's obvious that I'm interested! Cooking is an act of love for oneself and one's family. I have never felt anything more rewarding than teaching this!
You often mention your Australian grandmother as an inspiration. How has she influenced the way you cook?
She planted seeds of environmental awareness in me at a very young age! Through bold life choices for her time. She had been very successful as a business leader but did everything she could to get out of the consumer society. She simply cooked, made multiple health broths. I also owe her an entrepreneurial fibre and a need for non-negotiable freedom.
How did you come up with the idea of using plants in your pastries? Your cakes are sublime! Congratulations again on your creations!
Many thanks! I can't take any credit, it's nature that offers its beauty. Five years ago, I became obsessively passionate about harvesting and botany. When I discovered the magic of the plant kingdom, I fell in love with what has always existed.
You have invited us to your studio. How did you set it up?
This space had been abandoned for a few years, so we had to do some major work. I wanted a warm space, a bit like home, and another space for the lab that meets technical and hygiene standards. There is also a great courtyard where I grow my herbs, flowers and spices. I'm planning to move it in more quickly!
Where do all these little decorative objects come from?
Grâce to my training at the Boule school, I have the chance to have kept very talented artisan friends like Pierre Batut designer and cabinetmaker (Ananké design). He made the large custom-made wooden cabinet with mirrors to display herbariums and pieces of nature. I am also passionate about ceramics. Especially those of Judith Lasry, Marion Graux, Les Hirlets. I hunt a lot with my friend Chancelia Debraux from "galerie Prisme" who has an unfailing taste for beautiful things and an incredible culture.
Then, you also made us discover your magnificent flat! What is the room where you feel most at home? Why?
Without hesitation, the living room! It's a room that encourages family gatherings, but also rest and meditation with a view of the lime trees.
Do you recommend certain designers to decorate our homes?
You regularly talk about your commitment to ecology. What little habits do you think could make a difference?
Reduce or even ban plastic! Eat local, seasonal, ideally organic and local. Limit meat, choose it carefully from breeders who are conscientious about animal welfare. Get involved and support associations that refuse the massive use of phyto-sanitary products. Consider that we are part of a whole and that resources are not inexhaustible...
Does nature occupy as much space on your plate as it does in your daily life?
Of course! In Paris, through the herbariums and small altars that I have at home or in the lab. In Aveyron, where I escape as soon as I can, I rush into nature to the point of becoming part of it. I put myself at its rhythm and I learn the humility of being part of a whole.
Which plant suits you best? Why?
I have a special connection with the Plantain lanceolate! It's a powerful natural antihistamine. It cures nettle bites and skin sores. I also like yarrow, the plant for women par excellence.
Among our creations, which one speaks to you the most? What does it evoke to you?
Formentera, dragonera, conillera... I love all your circular compositions. The circle is the future of a fairer world. A world that is more horizontal, more respectful and more inclusive. I also have a big crush on Ancolie, which evokes a kind of nostalgia.
Any addresses where we might run into you?
At the Buttes Chaumont, Dilia's, the gambette à pain, Galerie Prisme, Chambelland's, at the end of the Gambetta field and the bookstore "Le comptoir des mots".
Which Instagram accounts inspire you the most for your creations?
@Subtiles.alchimie @amanteverte @jillcousin @plus_une_miette @severineperron @laguinguettedangèle @anneclaire.heraud @littlebouillon @jenniferlatham @missmaggiekitchen @lamaisone @ourwholeconcept @celine_maguet
What are your future projects?
To continue the online courses, my catering service and my flowery shortbread. Bring out a second book on steamed desserts at Marabout's and an ebook of recipes according to the precepts of a more local and peasant naturopathy! Our terroir is rich, the time has come to reappropriate knowledge, common sense and good gestures. I also hope to be able to resume physics classes in my workshop very soon. I miss people...