About Time You Met: Bea Vo, Founder of Butterscotch BakeryBy Angelica Malin
Bea Vo is a cake baking power house. After opening a string of bakeries and restaurants in the Big Smoke over the years, Bea launched her latest bakery, Butterscotch, in White City Place in 2017. We caught up with Bea to chat afternoon tea, scones, American desserts and, well, cake.
You’ve founded restaurants and bakeries across London such as Stax Diner, Bea’s of Bloomsbury and Boondocks – what can people expect from your latest venture Butterscotch London and the new Afternon Tea Room?
Afternoon Tea, for me, is really about spending time with the people you came with more than anything else—and Butterscotch is there to enhance that experience and make it as memorable as possible. From the entrance to the finish, you will not forget this tea room; we have a giant paper flower wall and ceiling, hanging desserts, and the menu is a nod to classics, but also getting to play with new flavours. It will definitely feel like a surprise.
Many of your cakes are inspired by your American roots – what’s on the menu?
At the moment as it’s winter time, it’s all about warm spiced fruits like caramel apple and chocolate, lots of chocolate and for Thanksgiving we had the US staples of pecan pie and a delicious pumpkin pie. Over at our new opening, the Butterscotch Tea Room, we have the British classic of freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, mini meringues and brownies, sandwiches such as roasted aubergine with romesco and rocket, and the smoked salmon and herbed mascarpone, plus lots more!
What do you think Brits love American sweet treats so much?
So many American sweets and desserts have their basis in British cuisine – our Christmas Eggnog drink is your custard for example – and so there’s a sense of familiarity with the flavour profiles of brownies and carrot cakes and red velvet cakes. The cakes styles are familiar, like the Victoria sponge or coffee and walnut cake, but there’s a small tweak which makes it new and fun, like peanut butter, cream cheese, condensed milk etc.
You’ve opened various different food outlets in London – what advice would you give someone who’s looking to open a restaurant/ business?
Work in the industry first – even just for 6 months – eating in a restaurant is nothing like running one. It’s not just about cooking food; it’s about managing relationships among your team, handling all sorts of regulations, costings, real estate, shop-fitting, and then on top of that developing the experience for customers. It’s all-consuming, so definitely be prepared for it to consume you, but in a good way!
How do you keep a good work/life balance?
I dance as my stress reliever and it’s always important to make time for your friends, but yes I have to admit I’m a reforming workaholic.
It’s just been announced you’re opening a Butterscotch London afternoon tea room in Marylebone. What’s in store?
We are really excited to be opening the second home of Butterscotch, a brand new tea room on James Street. It’s going to be split over two floors with a café space upstairs where we will be doing Ozone coffee, sandwiches and cakes on the go and it will also see the return of our Goldilocks Porridge Bar. Downstairs will be the tea room where we will be serving morning tea and evening tea, and it’s where you can enjoy some prosecco cocktails with charcuterie and cheese boards.
You created the famed duffin sundae (doughnut/muffin hybrid), any other wacky bakes in the pipeline?
I think of food and desserts on an organic basis and also based on what I’m craving, so the next time my cravings come up with something wild you’ll be the first to know!
Describe Butterscotch London in three words:
Fresh. Tasty. Memorable.
Favourite cakes to bake and eat?
Right now I’m on a Madeleine kick, and I can’t seem to get enough but my favourite cake to eat is Carrot Cake for sure!
If you’re eating a scone – jam first, then cream? Or cream first, then jam?
Cream first then Jam, and here’s why: When you frost a cake that has both jam and cream, you always lay the cream on first, as the cream sticks to the sponge, and then the jam glides on. If you put jam on first, the cream can’t grip onto the jam and slides all over.
Favourite place in London for dinner is:
Oooh tough – for casual I like Dishoom, Barshu, Shackfuyu, Bubbledogs and Hoppers.
Favourite place in London for coffee is:
Dose Espresso has a special place in my heart as my friend James runs it, and the Google campus is quite fun and buzzy!
For more information on Butterscotch Bakery, visit the website here.