In the Maison Dandoy workshop...
Fresh out of the oven with a hint of cinnamon, here's our fourth episode of "In the Maison Dandoy workshop". New seasons, new ideas: for this latest episode, our new editor Diego takes over as interviewer-in-chief at Maison Dandoy.
After a delicious morning waffle at the Charles Buls boutique (just to get in the spirit of things), it's time to meet two former Maison employees: Cédric and Kevin.
In charge of dishwashing (multi-hat)
9 years at Maison Dandoy
Favorite cookie(s): Feuille de palmier / Traditional speculoos
Cédric fell into the cookie dough when he was just a child.
If his name doesn't ring a bell, you're sure to know his mother. That's right, it's the son Patricia was telling us about, who decided on a career at Maison Dandoy just like his parents. A lovely family affair just like the Dandoy and their own speculoos dynasty.
Yet, for him, work and family are best left apart. "At home, I never talk about Dandoy, my parents have worked there for quite a while, they know everything about Dandoy. I myself prefer to relax once I get home." It's true that after working for more than forty years in the same place, his parents know the Maison inside out. Even if they sometimes ask him questions, he prefers not to answer.
Still, I can't help but ask him if he has children, and if he ever imagined them joining Maison Dandoy. While his daughter is still too small to consider it, he believes her passion for mini-cookies could be a harbinger...
A true jack-of-all-trades, Cédric has donned several aprons at Maison Dandoy. Even though he is best known for his work as a dishwasher, he has held various positions in the workshop: driver, handler, production manager (which he still performs during rush hour), etc. Most important for him is to be flexible and to never stand still. With its limits, of course. Watching me type at lightning speed on my keyboard, like a typist high on sugar, he laughs: "That's not for me, though. I could never spend my days behind a screen!"
But what impressed me the most about Cedric is his unfailing earnestness. He likes a job well done, and not to be idle. Which might be why, upon asking him what his favorite time of year is at the workshop, he answers without a doubt: "St. Nicholas' Day! Talk about work, there's plenty of it there!" He likes the house to be running at full speed, and while the days may be longer, he puts things into perspective by calling for an appreciation of everyday things, of being in the moment. A beautiful life lesson, which we would do well to keep in mind.
Ice cream maker / Pastry chef
7 years at Maison Dandoy
Favorite cookie(s): almond bread
It is often said that the shoemakers are the worst shod, and well, Kevin might be the warmest ice cream maker I have ever met.
After attending hotel school, Kevin started as a salesman, then as a pastry chef at Maison Dandoy, before taking on the role of ice cream maker. When I ask him if being an ice cream maker is cool, he laughs without raising an eyebrow.
A true devotee, he loves his work and is grateful to have been trained by the best. Indeed, he had the chance to learn his trade and its frosty secrets with an internationally renowned ice cream maker. "It was an incredible experience, he gave me a real taste for the job and inspired me. We actually got along very well, so much so that we became friends on Facebook." It appears Kevin has a knack for breaking the ice (sorry...).
For him, the most important thing after work (or before?) are his colleagues. He doesn't consider them as colleagues, but as brothers. Brothers he can count on in and out of the Atelier. Whether going for dinner or a movie, there's no shortage of opportunities to get together and have a good time. "Dieu and I are such good friends that he invited me to his son's birthday party." You get it, when it comes to setting the mood Kevin is on target. But he still reminds me how important it is to be diligent and organized. He prefers it when people ask him questions rather than say nothing, having to start over because something wasn't well executed.
His favorite time at the workshop? At the end of the summer, when he comes back from vacation. A little surprised, I ask him why, knowing it's not the case for most people. "The welcome I get when I'm back is just crazy! It's like being back with my family. It makes me feel like a king." It appears Maison Dandoy is about much more than just cookies – it's truly a family affair.