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Best of times, worst of times: Sophie Bertucat

Categories: Behind the stalls

The likes and dislikes of the co-owner and stall manager of Olivier’s Bakery

Fantasy job
I am very interested in history and would have loved to be an archaeologist—especially the era of the ancient Egyptians. The monuments, the buildings, the carving of the hieroglyphs all really impress me and I would love to work with them. Also, being an archaeologist is a very practical, hands-on profession and I love to work with my hands. For a short while as a teenager, for some reason I really wanted to be a fighter jet pilot. As you can see, the two are very different.

Worst job
I worked as a cashier in a tiny little aquarium in my home town of Saint-Malo in Brittany. The town is surrounded by thick fortress walls. The town had two aquariums, a large modern one in the town and a small one which was built within the old fortress walls. I was there to take the money from the few visitors and so sat alone in a small dark room inside a wall all day, it was incredibly boring.

Best recent film
It was a French film called Un Plus Une. It’s a romantic comedy about a French composer going to India to write the score for an Indian production of Romeo and Juliet. He meets the wife of the French ambassador to India and they slowly fall in love. It is not all roses, because they both realise they are chasing a happiness they may never find, and there was a truth in that, which I liked. But the film was also very funny as well.

Worst recent film
I can’t really say, because if I’m not liking a film after 10 minutes it goes off and I do something else. Some people persist with films they don’t like to see what happens, but I can’t do that. Life is too short.

Sophie Bertucat

Best recent book
An Apartment in Paris by Guillaume Musso. It is a thriller where two strangers who have to share an apartment that used to belong to a dead painter set out to find three missing paintings which hold clues to the murder of his son.

Favourite childhood dish
I’m not sure I can answer, because I was very curious about food as a child. My mother was a wonderful cook, my father was a fisherman so we always had fresh seafood of all kinds. My brother in France is now a chef, and of course there is my other brother Olivier, who co-owns the bakery. Everyone in the family cooked very well so it was hard to develop a favourite thing. I do remember liking veal with creamy mushrooms and potatoes a lot, but there were so many great dishes.

Best recent meal
The family has just been to Bulgaria for a holiday, and every morning we had the most wonderful breakfast. There were eggs, tomatoes, feta, small really tasty cucumbers and lots of other fresh produce to choose from. The nicest thing was having the time to enjoy all this wonderful food with the family, something I don’t normally have the time to do. So it is not so much a particular meal, but the experience of those breakfasts that I remember.

Worst kitchen disaster
For me béchamel sauce is a constant disaster. There have been so many times I have tried to do it where it has ended up in the bin. I think I have got it right once. Normally things in the kitchen are not too bad, because if something is not working I call my brothers and they tell me how to rescue the situation or how to avoid disaster. But with béchamel nothing worked, so I don’t even try to make it anymore.

Favourite school subject
Art. I loved the way it allowed me to express myself and it was doing something with my hands.

Worst school subject
Actually it was history. I just could not get my head around remembering all the dates. I did find the subject interesting at first, but the lessons seemed to be all about putting dates to things and I hated that.

Favourite drink
I am French so of course it is wine. I prefer red wine or rose and generally like to drink with food so the wine will depend on what I am eating. I also like cider, because they make wonderful cider in Brittany.

Worst drink
Vodka. I didn’t actually drink it until I was in my twenties and clearly drank too much because it made me very ill. I have never had it since and will never drink it again.

Food hero
My brothers. Ludovic, who has his own restaurant in Saint-Gérand back in Brittany, and of course Olivier.

Sporting hero
I used to do ballet, before an injury meant I had to stop, and one of my heroes was a French ballerina named Agnès Letestu. She has retired now but was a huge star at her height and a beautiful dancer.

Favourite music genre
As I was a dancer I have always been open to all kinds of music, but there has to be a melody in there. I don’t like it then you hear only noise, like in some styles of heavy metal.

Favourite thing about London
I love the variety of the city. Wherever you look you find this variety, in the people, cultures, the architecture, the food, the entertainment. For example, you can find a futuristic building next to an 18th century house, or stand in a queue between people from Africa and China. It is what makes London such an interesting place to be.

Worst thing about London
The pollution. I grew up in the fresh air of the Breton coast, so the pollution here can be a bit much at times—especially in the summer.

Best way to relax
I love swimming.

Best hangover cure
I think you just have to drink some more.