GBC’s training and the Michelin-starred chef experiences have helped them strive for their dream
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.
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.
“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.
What’s Lee’s favourite?
They look at each other and say, “that is our caramel.”
“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.
Roselle Desserts can be found at 362 King Street East in Toronto.