Well, that was an eventful evening. It’s not every day that you get a handwritten wooden invitation through your door to a secret location hosted by Grey Goose (to an event which I thought was just going to be a few cocktails at a new bakery on Shaftesbury Avenue). Even that is pretty bloody special. (I don’t venture very often to the “West” side of London. Hackney ’til I die etc etc.)
With invitation in hand I made my way to the location with Emma and Laura, arriving at 136 Shaftesbury Avenue which had been rebranded as the “Boulangerie Francois”. A few passers by asked me what this what all about. At this point, I wasn’t really sure myself, but from the camera men propped outside the door I knew this was probably not going to be your usual sort of drinks event. Then the celebrities rolled in. (And us).
As we entered into the Grey Goose bakery (I’ll tell you more about that in a minute) we had to enter through a secret trap door that looked like an oven. Yes, this happened. Behind this oven was an absolutely beautiful room with sparkling bottles of Grey Goose and waiters in tailcoats taking our coats and showing us to our corner table. It felt like we had accidently entered into a scene in Baz Lurhman’s The Great Gatsby. Lily Cole floated past looking radiant. How COOL, we thought. We are drinking the same cocktails as a MODEL ARTIST. (Next thought: Darn, wish I’d dressed up more).
Well-known Maitre’d Nair Sulmen offered us a choice of Grey Goose cocktails upon arrival. We got pretty hooked on the “Le Fizz” – a tasty combination of Grey Goose vodka, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, lime and chilled soda. It was addictive.
We then mingled in the room chatting in French (well, limited French) to a few different people, later realising that these were in fact character actors. We kept hearing the name Francois Thibault, the guy who created the recipe for Grey Goose vodka. We wondered if he was potentially somewhere in the same the room, mingling.
Then, this happened:
We walked into a secret passageway. We sat down on bar stools and two French men gave us the lowdown on the connection between the bakery and the vodka. The bread that was in front of us was made from the same wheat as Grey Goose vodka, hence the big bakery of Grey Goose bread. It was all really interesting to learn a bit more behind one of the world’s most famous vodka brands. Laura managed to launch into some French (she previously lived in Paris for a year) and had a nice conversation with Francois – I nodded and picked up the odd word here and there.
Just as we were leaving I realised he was THE Francois (that all of this was named after) and that he lived in Cognac. Yes, right there and then I managed to put two and two together: it was Francois, the CREATOR OF GREY GOOSE chatting away to us. He was THE MOST AMAZING MAN. We didn’t really know what to say as this guy was so important. We eventually croaked: “Thanks for coming all the way out here…!” and nearly went in for the hug.
All in all, the night was perfect. (Well, except I didn’t manage to spot Dominic Cooper, unfortunately.)
We even got a bottle each to take home with us. The evening ended well – specifically with us spotting Charlie Simpson in the unisex toilets.
Thanks Grey Goose. What a wonderful wonderful night.
On the 28–30 November, the super premium vodka brand will be opening up an artisanal bakery called Boulangerie François, situated in the heart of Soho at 136 Shaftesbury Avenue. Boulangerie François, aptly named after Grey Goose’s founder and Maitre de Chai François Thibault, will be open from 9am-6pm serving freshly baked artisan bread made from the same soft winter wheat from Picardie which is used to create Grey Goose vodka. This unique ‘Grey Goose Pain‘ will be accompanied by ‘Grey Goose Confiture‘, specially created hand-made jams using each of the flavoured Grey Goose vodkas: L’Orange, Le Citron and La Poire.
Visitors to the Boulangerie can sample the artisanal bread and confitures and will be invited to leave a donation for the Elton John Aids Foundation.
DISHES SERVED WERE:
with plum and toasted brioche
with Negronne figs and Bayonne ham
LANGOUSTINE TAIL & CRAB SALAD
with fennel slaw and Menton lemon dressing
with Gruyère & Dijon
SKILLET OF COQ OF VIN
with Lardons, Shallots & Cep