AcademicsQ&A with the former captain of the Swedish national pastry team

Pastry Chef, Tony Olsson on the importance of competing, knowing your craft and the pride in winning an Olympic gold medal.

Hello Tony! Where do you work and what is your position?

I work at Thelins Bakery, where I am head of pastry in the Stockholm area. I’m in charge of the production chain for all of our products.


How did you end up at Thelins?

I was originally working as a consultant for one of Thelins’ suppliers. In this capacity I traveled all over Sweden educating personnel within the pastry business. That’s how I got in touch with Eddie and the family who owns Thelins. We had been talking about doing something together and eventually the timing was right.


What is the best thing about your job?

It’s the gratitude we receive from our customers when they think a product is really delicious.

When happy customers reach out to us to rave about a piece of pastry I get very happy or when you hear that the dinner was great, but it was the dessert that was the best thing. In this job, I get to play a part in making others happy by sharing knowledge and through great ingredients.


What does a day at work look like?

I arrive at work around 6:00-6.30am. I say good morning to everyone and make sure everything is under control. If something needs my attention I start with helping out where I’m needed. I would say I’m 75-80% in production and the rest of the time is writing recipes and doing administrative work.

I also visit 4–5 stores during a week to see how everything is running on site including how the bread is baked or if the staff received any feedback from customers or have ideas they want to present. For us to develop, we need input from our customers, so I like to spend time with them and host events in the stores.


What is your proudest achievement of your career so far?

I am very proud to have won Olympic gold as part of the first Swedish Culinary Team!


What role does competition still play in your career?

When you compete, everything is put to its edge. From finding the fastest way to temper the chocolate and finding the ultimate taste combinations. You challenge yourself all the time. I see it as a huge advantage to have been competing for the past 30 years. Competing is a great way to help your career because you develop so much during competition. Winning isn’t even necessary because you gain so much through your training. It’s an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone.


Can you describe what it was like to be the team leader for the Swedish culinary team?

It was absolutely great to coach the Swedish team to a gold medal in the European championships. My job as a coach is to prepare the team so they perform their best during competition. As a team leader I can never be satisfied and the team needs to understand this, to constantly strive to be better. My job is to constantly challenge them, all the time.

I also have gotten a lot out of this experience. I have gained a lot of connections and I also grew in how to lead people that are under pressure. Lastly I learned a lot of new recipes new combinations from the team – that I still use today.


If you could change one thing in this business, what would it be?

The easy answer would be to stop selling cookies and cakes in the gas stations, I don’t think they belong there! At a bakery we have very high hygiene standards and regulations, because it must be very clean. But at a gas station I have never seen the same standards of cleanliness. The products aren’t good either, because, how can they be so cheap otherwise?


What is your tip for someone who is about to start their education?

It’s important to see the possibilities, not the problems. Be prepared to spend many hours to get good at what you do.

Don’t look at the money when young, work a bit harder, earn a bit less and find a good mentor. Build a good foundation to stand on and gain a broad understanding and knowledge.

Subscribe to news

${countComments} Comments