Meet the Baker Behind The Menu
This October, Lily Vanilli, the London-based baker to the stars, will open Afternoon Tea in the
Grand Saloon. A self-taught baker and owner of her Columbia Road bakery for over ten years, Lily has taken influence from the rich history of the theatre to create a decadent Afternoon Tea that is a playful, modern-day take on the glamorous Regency era.
Lily Vanilli started out when Lily set up a stall near Brick Lane to sell her cakes in 2008. The success of her market stall led to the opening of Lily Vanilli, Lily’s first bricks and mortar site on Columbia Road in 2010 which has had queues outside the shop since opening. In 2018, Lily opened a second site in Tbilisi, Georgia.
A self-taught baker, Lily is known for her pioneering and innovative cake designs, with clients
including Elton John, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Alexander McQueen, Kate Moss, Vivienne
Westwood and Shrimps amongst many others. Previous projects have included providing lemon meringue pies for Nigel Slater’s West End theatre show, Toast, curating an afternoon tea for restaurant Fountain Frenzy in Nanjing, China, and working as a brand ambassador for Lurpak, Baileys and Billington’s.
Lily has written three bestselling recipe books: Sweet Tooth, A Zombie Ate My Cupcake and
#BakeForSyria, which went straight to No.1 on Amazon in 2018 and donated all proceeds to supporting children displaced by the war in Syria. As well as consulting for multiple leading brands in the UK and overseas, Lily is co-founder of the prestigious YBF Awards which began in 2012. Judges alongside Lily have included Sunday Times food critic Marina O’Loughlin and world-renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi, amongst many others. Accolades:
"One of the most sought-after artisan bakers of her generation" Stylist
"The Queen of baked goods" ES Magazine
"It's thanks to artisans such as Lily Vanilli that baking has never been so hip" Sunday Times Style
"Lily Vanilli’s flights of fantasy have us grabbing our aprons" British Vogue
Lily says, “I am over the moon to be a part of such an ambitious and exciting project. I’ve always wanted to put my spin on a classic afternoon tea and felt that there was room to really shake things up and do something different, so working on this has been so much fun. I love the fact that the tea is made up of classics that everyone genuinely wants to eat: jelly, ice cream, cake, custard and sausage rolls... I can’t wait to see the theatre come to life, with guests sitting in the incredible Grand Saloon to get stuck in and revel in the hedonism and decadence that the Regency period was so well known for.”
As well as creating the Afternoon Tea, Lily’s role in the theatre extends to the wider food offering within the space, which has been entirely restored with the addition of new food and drink spaces open throughout the day. Overseeing the food offering at The Garden, a relaxed, plant-filled interior open all day with indoor/outdoor seating and a soaring high ceiling with oversized chandeliers, and The Cecil Beaton bar, Lily has been the brains behind the menus carefully selecting the best London suppliers including Happy Endings and Provisions.