The name Longboys is a nod to the long finger format… and also to the name of their creators’ dachshunds. Graham Hornigold and Heathier Kaniuk met in the kitchens of the Hakkasan Group in London, and have shared, in addition to their passion for good patisserie, many experiences in the world of luxury hotels and high-end restaurants. With this initiative, not only do they take their first step running their own pastry business (well, they also run a consultancy, Smart Patisserie), but also try to unite two worlds that are typically separated: the popularity of one of the most universal sweet specialties, the doughnut, and the refinement and precision of working according to the haute cuisine standards, both regarding the ingredients used and the methods that bet on a super fresh product. The Longboys cross the bridge that separates both worlds.
” The name Longboys is a little tongue in cheek – we wanted the brand to be fun and not too serious – a bit like us. The name references the long shape of the doughnuts, and also our two beautiful sausage dogs! “
The result is a range of fried yet lightened doughs, with a long shape rather than a round one, rich but suggestive at the same time, whose descriptions and types are more reminiscent of the menu of a Michelin star restaurant than that of a street stand which sells low-quality pastries. Graham Hornigold’s professional maturity and Heather Kaniuk’s skills when it comes to working doughs are the pillars of a project that has recently reached its first year of activity. They are aware that London is an extremely competitive place and that the market is saturated by this type of product. For this reason, their proposal is different, and pursues an exclusive character at an affordable price. So now, in London, it is already possible to take pleasure in eating some good Longboys without giving up the flavor of vanilla, toasted grué, fresh mascarpone cream or a dough containing fresh pieces of banana, coconut or raspberry. Although the Covid-19 crisis has caught up with them at a very early stage of their business, Graham and Heather are confident that they will be able to resume their ambitious growth plan once a certain calmness is restored. At the end of the day, ‘people like to eat, and eating by nature brings people together.’
Photos (except portrait): HDG_Photograpghy_
‘We focus on using great tasting fillings, using fruits, nuts and compotes made in house rather than sugary glazes and processed toppings’
Do you think this global pandemic is going to change the pastry trade somehow?
Covid-19 has definitely changed the hospitality scene at present. With a view to the longer term, of course people will yearn for a return to normality. Humans are by nature social creatures with food playing an integral part of any social gathering. People need to eat, but more importantly, people like to eat, and eating by nature brings people together. Whilst in the immediate future this will be challenging due to be social distancing to keep everyone safe, businesses will have to adapt to this changing scenario both through consumer trends and government legislation.
How did you both meet and when did you decide to collaborate?
We met in 2014 within Hakkasan Group. After working together for 3 years, Heather left to take on the role of Pastry chef at Mandarin Oriental and Shangri-La at the Shard. We remained friends through a love of food, friendly competition alongside marathon running. We had thought about starting a food business in various forms, and in late 2017 we decided to take the plunge, first with Smart Patisserie– our consultation. 18 months later, we had an opportunity to open Longboys gourmet finger doughnuts.
“We are both still students, always looking to refine our methods and techniques. Both of us are heavily involved in training and developing our team and reviewing our product lines”
Who of you is the “business soul” and who is “the artist”?
Both of us bring our unique and differing skillsets to the table. Graham is the personality of the brand- always willing to chat to our customers and enthuse the team. We share the business duties- Heather doing more of the day-to-day aspects of running the business, while Graham takes care of the business development and longer-term business goals.
We collaborate on product development, but the majority comes down to Heather, who loves recipe creation and research. We are both still students, always looking to refine our methods and techniques. Both of us are heavily involved in training and developing our team and reviewing our product lines.
When it comes to Smart Patisserie, we collaborate across all projects. Graham brings more of a classical and refined approach while Heather’s passions lie in the bakery fields and utilizing more global trends within our concept designs.
What has it been like this first year? Did you imagine it would be like that? Are you happy with the feedback?
The first year of any business is tough and for us it has been no different. London is a challenging market particularly with the impact of Brexit over the last year and the competitive nature of the doughnut market. However, we received some good feedback through our social channels and this led to us being picked up by two of London’s luxury department stores, Harrods and Selfridges. Our products have been well received and we have had success in events and pop-ups around London. We celebrated our first-year birthday only a week before lockdown, which has put our Year Two plans on hold for the moment. However, we look forward to returning in the second half of 2020 and growing our brand. Watch this space!
“We felt we could impact the market by bringing back a more traditional style doughnut in terms of the dough and using high quality ingredients”
Why Longboys? Are you not taking the risk of being too luxurious to be popular and too simple to be exclusive?
Globally, what is more popular than doughnut? With Longboys, we wanted to create a fun and innovative casual brand, that appeals to everyone. Whilst there are many doughnut brands on the market, the majority of these are round. We thought if we are to make an impact, we needed to bring something different.
Longboys is the modernization of the finger doughnut to the market saturated by round ones. Many cultures have doughnuts in one form or another however the recent trend has focused on the overly sweet American style confection. We felt we could impact the market by bringing back a more traditional style doughnut in terms of the dough and using high quality ingredients. We focus on using great tasting fillings, using fruits, nuts and compotes made in house rather than sugary glazes and processed toppings.
Longboys is not aiming solely at the high-end market, we want to produce top-end pastry that is accessible to all, both in terms of flavours and price points. No pastry or cake has come close to the global popularity of the doughnut, thus Longboys was conceived to bring top-end pastry to the masses. Far from being simple, Longboys incorporates all of our knowledge from 5-star and Michelin experience to our range of products, and in turn helps us to bridge the gap between tasty sweet treats and high-end patisserie.
The name Longboys is a little tongue in cheek – we wanted the brand to be fun and not too serious – a bit like us. The name references the long shape of the doughnuts, and also our two beautiful sausage dogs!
What gives an “artisan label” or “artisan spirit” to Longboys range of products? So, what is the limit to define you as artisan and when you would move towards a concept more “industry” or “big production”? What makes the difference and what is the limit to be genuinely artisan?
All our products are made by hand, fresh each day. The world deserves better taste across confection, but it shouldn’t cost the earth to get it. Currently, doughnuts are within the top six consumed pastries of the world. We see the doughnut as being the vehicle to bring our flavor and the taste experience to the masses, helping to bridging the gap between top end patisserie by making it more accessible to all. Better flavor, less sweet and more balanced.
You send a message of less sugar and fat in your ‘long doughnuts’, but is it possible for them to be healthier without being less, let’s say, yummy? In what point being healthier could mean being less mouth-watering?
As we were in our restaurant and hotel careers, we have always produced everything from scratch. This way we are able to control the sugar and providence of the ingredients that go into producing the fillings, doughnuts, ice-creams and drinks. We feel by utilizing our years of experience and ingredient knowledge we can upscale the recipes and work with food professionals to ensure that our large batch production stays true to our ideology.
Top three Longboys
‘The triple chocolate brownie has consistently been our top seller. However, this is likely to be expected as it is the most familiar flavour! Raspberry rose and lychee comes next. It is light, refreshing and closest to the original jam and cream finger doughnut. Tiramisu has been a crowd favourite, we originally put this on as a seasonal flavour, but we always get requests to bring it back.’
“London offers the perfect theatre to showcase Longboys to the world, with the hope to spread our wings and see where it takes us”
Longboys concept suits better in a city like London? How important is a cosmopolitan and open-minded audience?
London is our base, and currently our home. So- the perfect place to launch our brand. Consumers here are culinary savvy and love to try the next “new” thing. With it’s maze of markets, street stands, large malls and department stores, as well as an abundance of office catering and on-demand delivery options, London offers the perfect theatre to showcase Longboys to the world, with the hope to spread our wings and see where it takes us.
Is it possible to offer a fine pastry concept outside fine restaurants and luxury hotels?
Clients are often looking for ways to enhance their pastry offering- frequently they have an idea of what they are looking for, however perhaps not the knowhow or the staff to implement it. For example, we have seen much more of an interest in independent restaurants in the GCC region wanting to offer western-style laminated pastries made in house. There is more specialization going on in pastry, with a return to smaller businesses wanting to make items bespoke in house.
“Pastry chefs tend to specialize at a much earlier stage, going straight into either focusing on bakery or as a chocolatier. This is done at a much earlier age and subsequently they miss out on a hotel-based training which may have provided a much better fundamental base to become a more rounded pastry chef”
How do you imagine the pastry trade in London and UK within 10 years?
With the hotel pastry sections reducing staff numbers and with hotels historically being the breeding ground for pastry chefs, we all know globally pastry chef numbers are dwindling. Such with trends today the mono product rules. So, pastry chefs tend to specialize at a much earlier stage, going straight into either focusing on bakery or as a chocolatier. This is done at a much earlier age and subsequently they miss out on a hotel-based training which may have provided a much better fundamental base to become a more rounded pastry chef.
This approach has a knock-on effect and what we’re seeing is some skills and techniques being lost. Hotel pastry departments teach us a brief insight into the business side of running a pastry led business; this is something that should be fundamental to chef training given the majority of pastry chefs ultimately wanting to have their own business one day in some form. It would be more beneficial to gain this business experience within a hotel set up where you have multiple outlets, infinitely more product lines, buffet, restaurant, center pieces, glaces, bakery, private dining all under one roof.
However, with the relatively quick movement of chefs due to the limited amount of knowledge they can learn from one site which is practicing mono products, industry finds itself struggling and chasing its tail to maintain the team consistency and/or head counts.