Jonathan Ellis


Jonathan Ellis is a baker from Big Bear Baked Goods – so it says on his super cute business card. But from our interview, I realised that he is much more than this – I got the impression that Ellis is a very ambitious guy, working hard to build a pastries empire, with an eye on the quality of his products, and an eye to the business aspects of the whole thing.

Jonathan Ellis是Big Bear Baked Goods的面包师 – 他超级可爱的名片上如是写着。但通过我的采访,我发现他远不止此 – Ellis给我的印象是,他充满抱负,努力得工作来创建他的烘焙王国,他对产品和整个事业精益求精。


And he is an innovator – spending 20 hours/week doing R&D, and trying to change a situation, the one of baked goods in China, which is not up to speed with the rest of the world. If you aren’t sure about what I’m talking about, read below. Be careful. You’ll be drooling at the end of this post.

他还是位创新先锋 – 每周有20个小时都花在研究和开发上,他试图改变中国烘焙产品落后于世界综况的现状。如果你不清楚我在说些什么,请继续读下去吧。不过请格外小心。读到最后,你的口水估计都要流下来了。


How did you end up in Beijing?

I’m originally from Chicago and the first time I seriously considered moving to China was when, back in 2007, I was offered a teaching job there, with rent and food provided by my employer. It sounded like the perfect deal – it was clear to me from the very beginning that Beijing would be the land of opportunities. In three weeks I sold my car, packed my stuff, said good bye to my parents and jumped on a plane. Now, after being here for more than seven years, I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with Beijing: but I’d rather stay here and change things that than leave.


我来自芝加哥,2007年是我第一次认真得考虑搬来北京。那时我有一份包括食宿的教书机会。这个机会听上去挺完美的 – 对我来说,从一开始我就觉得北京是片充满了机会的土地。三周之内我把我的车卖掉了,收拾好了行李,跟我父母道了别,然后就跳上了飞机。现在,我在这里已经住了7年多了,我对北京的感情爱恨交织:但我情愿继续留在这里并给这里带来改变,而不是说走就走。


How did the Big Bear Baked Goods’ adventure start?

I’ve been a baker my whole life and I’ve always baked for friends during special occasions and done my best to source the best ingredients available at the market. After a bit of friendly trash-talking I found myself involved in a friendly baking competition, which I ended up winning, with my amazement. That first victory was a hint – maybe there was a chance I could do something more with this. Then in December 2013 I participated in the Cookie Monster Competition held by The Hutong, a culture centre in Beijing – it was a big opportunity and I won it, me being just a dude baking cookies. That surprise victory raised awareness that I should really start thinking about how to make this “baking” thing work.

Big Bear Baked Goods这段冒险历程是如何开始的?

我这辈子都在烘焙吧,每到节假日我总是给我的朋友做糕点,我总是尽全力去找市场上所能找到的最好的配料。有次闲聊后,我歪打正着的参加了一场烘焙友谊赛,凭借我的才华,我赢得了这场比赛。第一次的胜利就像个暗示 – 或许这是个机会,我能利用这个爱好做更多的事情。2013年12月,我参加了北京的一个文化中心The Hutong举办的“Cookie Monster Competition” – 这是个很重要的机会,而我不过是个烘焙饼干的家伙,竟然赢得了这个比赛。这个意外的胜利开始让我意识到,我真的应该开始在“烘焙”这件事上做点文章了。


When you do R&D, what do you focus on?

Obviously, I have to try new recipes using alternative ingredients and baking techniques. But at this very moment I’m actually focusing on the business aspects of this adventure: I’m evaluating the option of opening a brick and mortar business and wondering how to keep my integrity when the opportunity of an investment comes. But I’m confident there is a way: just by looking at successful food & beverage examples like Element Fresh or Wagas – more pertinent to baking and innovation more places like LA Palms, Tribe, and South German Bakery. I realise there is no reason why there shouldn’t be more options like these.


显而易见的,我必须要用非传统的原料和烘焙技术来尝试新的制作配方。但是就目前来说,我的重点在这次冒险旅程的商业方面:我对开设实体店进行评估,并考虑当有投资者加入的机会时,我如何保持独立。我对解决方案很有信心:身边有很多餐饮业成功的例子,比方说Element Fresh和Wagas,还有些与烘焙和创新更相关的例子,比方说LA Palms, Tribe, 和South German Bakery。我找不出理由为什么不应该有更多这样的选择。

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Do you have a mentor?

I would say my friends who keep me in line and give me advice. But my biggest influence at the moment is Dominique Ansel – an amazing and innovative chef, inventor, among the others, of the cronut [its pastry is made by frying a laminated dough in grape seed oil. The fried pastry is then sugared, filled, and glazed and, apparently, it’s amazing – and highly innovative. In December 2013, Time magazine named the cronut as one of the “25 Best Inventions” of 2013]. He is an amazing baker, and even now, that he has international recognition, he hasn’t changed his working style and ethic. He is a progressive chef and the owner of an extremely successful business – and a big source of inspiration for me.


我认为是那些提醒我和给我建议的朋友们。但是目前给我影响最大的是Dominique Ansel – 一位充满魅力和创新精神的厨师,可颂甜甜圈的创始人(可颂甜甜圈是用可颂面团叠加并用葡萄籽油煎炸的甜点。煎后的糕点上铺满糖霜,填满奶油,无可置疑的是,它美味极了 – 且创意十足。2013年12月,时代周刊将可颂甜甜圈命名为2013年的“25个最棒的发明”)。


What would your shop look like?

It would be a small boutique selling scones, muffins, cookies and other parties. It would be engaged in lots of collaborations with other people and genuine businesses. I would be there in person to take care of my customers and I wouldn’t mind being involved in more cross-cultural projects within my community. This is pretty innovative for Beijing panorama, but shops like this are already popping up in other parts of the world, mainly in the West, so I’m sure there is a way to make this happen.


它会是个精致的小店,卖些司康饼,麦芬,饼干和其它的西点。它会和其它充满创意的人和业务有很多的合作。我会在 那里照顾我的顾客,我也不介意有更多跨文化的项目。这对北京的现状来说,是很有新意的,但在世界其它地方,这种概念的店铺已经兴起,主要是在西方,所以我对此很有信心。


What do you think about the ‘gluten-free’ or ‘lactose-free’ train of thought?

Well, I think it’s partially due to growing health awareness and that there’s validity in it but I also think it’s cultural trend. Anyways, I know it’s something I can’t ignore and that I must embrace. While I already have recipes of super healthy cookies, I’m also investigating alternative sugars and flours. It takes lots of time to source the right ingredients, and then to balance the recipes. The thing is that I’m not happy with the pastry until it tastes completely amazing. So I have lots of work to do!

你对 “不含麸质“ 或 “不含乳糖” 这种概念有什么想法?



Do you want to share one of your recipes, so that we can all be bakers-for-a-day?

Oh yes! Here you go!



**Triplets (Three kinds of chocolate cookies)**


Ingredients 配料

Wet 湿

285g of (softened) unsalted butter 285克(软化的)无盐黄油

200g Brown Sugar (breakup clumps) 200克红糖 (散状)

150g White Sugar 150克白糖

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (fresh is preferable)  一匙量香草精 (最好是新鲜的)

2 Large eggs, at room temp  2个鸡蛋,室温下存放

Dry 干

250g Cake flour (sifted) 250克低筋面粉(筛过)

180g Bread flour (sifted) 180克高筋面粉(筛过)

1 teaspoon salt 一匙量盐

1.25 teaspoons baking soda 1.25匙量苏打粉

1.5 teaspoons baking powder 1.5匙量发酵粉

Chocolates, use a mixture of different percentages of chocolate (milk, semi-sweet, dark, etc.)


Directions 做法

Sift together in a large bowl all of the ‘dry’ ingredients in the exact measurements and making sure to break-up any clumps, especially in the baking soda. Once altogether, whisk so there is an even distribution of the ingredients, and then set aside.


In a different bowl, soften the butter, DO NOT MELT the butter and mix until you get a thick, stiff cream – one by one add in the rest of the ‘wet’ ingredients in the order above. *Crack the eggs in a separate small bowl, whisk lightly and add in one at a time into the ‘wet’ mix.


Little by little, mix the dry ingredients into the ‘wet’ bowl about a ladle-full at a time.


Once blended together fold-in your chocolate (you as much or as little as you want in your cookies, a healthy amount would a little over two 2.5 cups).


Using an ice cream scoop or a rounded spoon scoop out dough balls approximately 1 inch in diameter, separated by one inch spacing. *Dough balls should be placed on parchment paper (or a well-greased baking sheet).

用冰激凌勺或圆形的勺子舀出直径大概为1英寸的面团,每隔1英寸放置。面团应放置在羊皮纸上 (或好的烘培油纸上).

Bake at 180 degrees C for about 9-10 minutes, for better results, refrigerate the pre-formed dough balls for 24 hours before baking.


Transfer to a wire rack for cooling and let them cool for 7-9 minutes. Pour a cold glass of milk and enjoy!


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Ellis is everything an entrepreneur should be: smart, curious, ambitious, innovative, brave and at the same time cautious. Moreover, he has a contagious smile and his cookies are amazing. And I look forward to seeing what more he has got for us. And if one day, passing by a boutique pastry shop in Beijing you see people queuing for a cookie – don’t be surprised. After all, we all knew this would eventually happen!

Ellis具备一位创业者所应该有的一切:聪明,好奇,充满抱负,创意十足,勇敢而又谨慎。而且,他的笑容充满感染力,他的曲奇好吃极了。我非常期待他会给我们带来更多。如果有一天,你在北京路过一家西点精品屋,看到人们在排队买曲奇 – 不要惊讶。毕竟,我们都知道这是会发生的事情!

Jonathan Ellis sforna dei cookies fantastici. E mentre e’ occupato a mettere a punto nuove ricette con ingredienti naturali e salutari, sta anche pensando ad un business plan che gli permetta di trasformare la sua passione in un lavoro. Ellis, con un sorriso contagioso e una forza di volontà fuori dal comune, non ha dubbi: non importa quanto tempo ci vorra’, ma prima o poi aprirà la sua pastry boutique. E io non vedo l’ora!


For the chat with Jonathan Ellis at Wagas I was delighted to wear:

跟Jonathan Ellis在Wagas的交谈,我的时尚搭配如下:

Red Coat红色大衣: Max Mara studio

Scarf围巾: Woo Shanghai

Hat & leather gloves帽子&皮手套: H&M

Earrings耳环: Tiffany & Co.

Sunglasses太阳镜: Prada


All the pictures at Wagas were taken with my Sony NEX-T5.

Wagas的照片由我的Sony NEX-T5拍摄。

For all the other pictures, special thanks to Jonathan.



Chinese translation by Vivian Zhou.

中文翻译由Vivian Zhou 完成。

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