George Brown alumni couple start sweet business

GBC’s training and the Michelin-starred chef experiences have helped them strive for their dream

Roselle Tart Photo: Dora Liu/The Dialog

Roselle Tart Photo: Dora Liu/The Dialog

A pair of lovers and George Brown College (GBC) graduates have made the leap of combining their passion of culinary arts and each other, opening their own desserts restaurant called Roselle.

Stephanie Duong, 26, and Bruce Lee, 30, both graduated from GBC in 2009.

Duong studied baking and pastry arts while Lee took to integrated chef training, and their romance bloomed during a two-week study tour in Paris in their final semesters.

“We were not good friends on the journey, but just after the trip we happened to stay behind in Paris to look for jobs,” says Duong and Lee.

Bruce Lee and Stephanie Duong enjoy rolling caramel treats together Photo: Dora Liu/The Dialog

Bruce Lee and Stephanie Duong enjoy rolling caramel treats together Photo: Dora Liu/The Dialog

Lee landed a job in a Michelin-starred Chinese-French fusion restaurant and Duong was hired to work in a pastry kitchen in a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the Paris countryside, followed by a chocolate shop.

It seemed like the plot of a movie, but as these two young hearts chased their dreams together, they fell in love.

After a year in Paris, Lee brought Duong to Hong Kong, his hometown and a high-end restaurant paradise, and after another year of practicing various culinary work, they decided to move back to Toronto.

Lee continued his work in a hotel restaurant and Duong began working in a high-end juice shop. These were the invaluable experiences that helped shape the fate of Roselle.

Roselle is a French-style dessert boutique offering a small selection of delicately cut cakes, cookies, cupcakes and caramel candies. Though the pastries are high-end, the space itself is cozy, small and inviting.

The small and cozy vibe is carried throughout the way Duong and Lee do business, running Roselle solely on their own. While Duong takes care of production and tends to the kitchen, Lee oversees the shop’s accounting, purchasing and logistics.

Ginger cakes at Roselle Photo: Dora Liu/The Dialog

Ginger cakes at Roselle Photo: Dora Liu/The Dialog

“We are just so in the moment, so delicate to what we are doing,” says Lee, looking at Duong as he spoke. “But we are not silly. It’s just the beginning. We have our plan.”

There is nothing light about the workload these two endure; Duong is in the shop six days a week while Lee works full-time in a hotel restaurant, using any free time he has to help run the business.

Duong says they were both well-trained in Paris and Hong Kong, and that they don’t mind the hard work.

Their combined professional knowledge, techniques and experiences have been a great aid when it comes to problem solving. Duong says they are satisfied with what they have accomplished in just one month of business.

“In terms of selection, we don’t want to do too much because we want to define what we have, instead of just offering a whole bunch of things that are not doing well,” said Duong.
In their showcase only six assortments of cup cakes are offered, and Duong said that they are the ones she likes the most.

What’s Lee’s favourite?

They look at each other and say, “that is our caramel.”

Duong said she wanted a job in a chocolate shop at the time they were in Paris.

“I found that shop’s caramel was made so well, so I wanted to work there. Bruce speaks better French than me. So he helped him to talk with the chef. Finally I got the job,” she said.

“Actually it’s the caramel that I like,” said Lee, with an embarrassing smile, “but caramel is very expensive and Stephanie and can’t afford to buy that for me everyday. So, she figured out how to make it, and then made the caramel for me.”
That is the only unpolished sweet in Roselle.
Duong and Lee are not yet married, but Lee says we can ask him this question again six months down the road.

Roselle Desserts can be found at 362 King Street East in Toronto.

George Brown College students at Roselle Photo: Dora Liu/The Dialog

George Brown College students at Roselle
Photo: Dora Liu/The Dialog

 

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George Brown alumni couple start sweet business