Helen Vass

Pastry Chef and Winner of the BBC’s Bake Off: Crème de la Crème
BA (Hons) Tourism & Intl Travel Mgmt 2007

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When Helen started studying at GCU, she never thought that she would one day become a world renowned pastry chef. 

Helen was a star student and received a first class honours degree in Tourism and International Travel Management. 

“I absolutely LOVED my time at GCU, it was such a positive experience for me,” she says. 

After graduating, she jetted off to Barcelona to balance working at a real estate company with baking as a hobby. She loved the art of making desserts so much so that she taught traditional British baking classes. 

Helen realised this was her true calling and in 2013 she left her day job to come back to Glasgow. She says: “I’ve always loved baking, it was always in my heart. One day I decided I had had enough of my office job and wanted to go for it as a chef. 

“If I don’t do it now I never will.” 

She studied for an HNC in Patisserie and Professional Cooking at Glasgow College, honing her skills for creating delectable desserts. The five star Blythswood Square Hotel took her on as a pastry chef which involved challenging 15 hour shifts in a fast-paced kitchen. 

Helen was still inspired by Spanish baking so eventually moved back to Barcelona to work at Pastelería Escribà, one of their oldest patisseries, run by fourth generation pastry chef, Christian Escribà. 

She also got the chance to work in Singapore for the world’s first ever pastry theatrical event, Fantasía by Escribà, at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre. Back in the Barcelona patisserie, she worked in both the patisserie production kitchen and the school. 

She returned to Scotland in 2015 as the sole pastry chef for the award-winning 2AA rosette Number 16 restaurant in the west end of Glasgow.  In between shifts, she travelled to London to compete in the BBC2 Great British Bake Off spin off show, Bake Off: Crème de la Crème which is hosted by Michelin Star chef Tom Kerridge. 

Helen, along with teammates Mark Tilling (World Chocolate Master), and Samantha Rain, (UK Junior Chocolate Master) successfully defeated their competitors to claim the winning title. 

Now she has her own ventures. Dulce, ‘sweet’ in Spanish, is a series of pop up bake events in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. Her creations, like mouth-watering chocolate, chilli and praline as well as forest fruit with cream cheese verrine, are inspired by regular trips to Barcelona. 

Helen’s meteoric success is down to her extreme dedication – she only began baking full time a few years before her Crème de la Crème win. She thanks GCU in part for her achievements. 

“My course gave me all the business and marketing skills to run my business. I do all my own marketing, promotion, website, ticket sales, event planning,” she says. 

Helen has been back on campus serving her signature pastries at a reunion for alumni of GCU’s founding institutions The Queen’s College and The Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science, affectionately known as The Dough School.

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