Real value

first_imgTwo of my biggest French influences have run themselves into mountainsides in helicopters,” laments 37-year-old Alastair Gourlay of The Real Patisserie, signalling the treacherous trappings of top-flight bakery. Gourlay is of course talking about Lionel Poilâne of renowned bakery Poilâne and Delice de France’s Philippe Signolet. “I was shocked both times,” he recalls. “They were big figures, on a different level to me, but there were elements of what they did that I very much looked up to and respected.”Not one of those businesses with rampantly ambitious targets, Real Patisserie has no plans to hit £X-million turnover within two years or sell up for a fat wedge of cash; this is a simple product and people-centred firm that is loath to over-reach itself. A helicopter landing pad would be an unlikely, if impressive, addition to this two-shop Brighton-based bakery.Built on the French patisserie model, the emphasis is firmly on customer service and honesty of product. “From very early on, I got an awfully big kick out of making the customer happy, genuinely. When you read people saying that kind of thing, you think ’what a cliché’, but it’s great when you give people something that everyone loves, like cake,” says Gourlay. Extolling the virtues of his particular sponge trade over another, he adds: “It so much more personal than selling, say, loft insulation.”french connectionBritish-born Gourlay learnt his trade while living in France for six years, achieving a Diploma Boulangerie Patisserie. An apprenticeship and four years working at several Paris patisseries preceded a move back to Brighton and a desire to set up shop 12 years ago.Starting small, with just three employees, it has since grown steadily year after year. It now employs 42 staff, has 130 wholesale customers and runs one busy shop, while a second shop has been added on Western Rd, run by Franck Cleret and Marie-Dominique Doht. Wholesale customers comprise independent shops, sandwich bars, cafés and restaurants in a tight geographical net around Brighton. They predominantly buy breads, including traditional English white and farmhouse sliced sandwich loaves, baps and rolls, pastries such as almond croissants, pains au raisin and various Danishes. But the bakery specialises in continental-style breads.Before the central bakery opened, everything was baked on the small retail premises of its original Trafalgar St shop – which has just 16sq m of retail space and 45sq m of backroom. “Back then, we didn’t have the proper ventilated ovens that we needed to make all the different types of breads we’re making. Now we have proper steam tube deck ovens, which is the only sort of oven you can really use for the crust quality of French-style bread. I’ve always been attracted to baking bread, almost more than the patisserie,” he says.Moul-bie flours are used to make its biggest-selling speciality bread, Campaillou – known in the shop as “Chewy” for its crust quality. Other breads include organic seeded and organic white, ciabatta, a “whole army of focaccia types” and lots of rye breads, including walnut and rye, 100% rye sourdough and a light rye, which is cut 50/50 with other flours.The common factor in their production is that they’re all bulk-fermented, they all receive intermediate proves and the process can be long, lasting anything from two-and-a-half hours up to 15 hours for a small selection of breads.The oven used is a heat-stable Bongard steam tube deck oven. The main bakery has a double rack oven and intermediate prover, a laminator, a croissant rolling machine, which makes 1,000 croissants per hour, mixers, a volumetric divider that’s used mainly for the English breads, and a hydraulic divider which is more tender with the dough, if more time-consuming, says Gourlay.The pastries arrive at the shop raw unproved and are retarded overnight and baked in the morning. Some patisserie is made from scratch on-site, such as lemon, pear and chocolate tarts, almond cakes, macaroons and éclairs. “The finer, super-decorated patisserie is not really my thing now. I’m more into pastry with really honest ingredients, generous portions, freshly made with tight quality control,” he comments.reasonable approachThe single most important thing to his business is not charging too much for products, to operate within a busy environment on a reasonable, but not excessive, margin, and without resorting to special offers, he explains. “Although we’re providing what we feel is a very good product, we’re not pitching into the luxury market, because it’s not very big. I’d much rather give Mr and Mrs Everyone walking down the street something good for 90p than charge Mrs Fox-Fur-Coat £3.60.”Around 2,500 nearby office workers fuel a healthy lunchtime sandwich trade, amounting to around 160 baguettes a day. Unlike a typical French counterpart, sandwiches account for the bulk of sales although there is a French flavour to fillings including Brie and mountain hams. “I don’t like admitting it but sandwiches are our biggest seller, followed by sweet pastries and savoury pastries,” he says. Tarts are big weekend sellers, accounting for up to a third of turnover on Saturdays, while quiches are a particularly profitable line, with around 120 portions sold daily. All soups, mixes and preparations are made from scratch.So why is this high street bakery thriving while others struggle? “The independent baker – if he’s a good baker, treats his customers properly and has some capital behind him – can’t go wrong. As long as you’re not paying stupid rents, you’re taking ingredients that cost very little and turning them into products that have quite a high value. If you’re doing it on a small scale, you can pull in a lot of money relative to the amount of turnover, as we did with just one shop in the first five years,” he says.Since then, the company has invested in machinery and the near future will be about consolidating, as the bakery nears capacity, he says. “We haven’t started refusing customers yet, but we’re getting to that level. But it’s making plenty of money and margins are ok. If we produce more, we will run into quality control issues. So if we’re going to expand now, either we’ll have to expand the bakery, which would be expensive, or we expand through retail.”Any future plans rest with other people within the business. “If we were to get any bigger, then I would definitely become very removed from a lot of people working on-site and I’m not sure that would be an easy jump to make. We’re in a position right now where, as long as we’re sensible, we can all live comfortably off what’s in place.”There are some people who have made fantastic bread and then done silly things, such as take on 900sq m premises on the back of seven customers, and then gone under. I respect those sorts of people for their energy, but they really haven’t learnt to delegate and just run themselves into a wall.”He insists fostering the right in-house attitude will brush onto other people in the business and, importantly, new recruits. “Once that block of stone is in place, making it successful is just a matter of chipping away, repeating the same things to people. There’s a very personal element to the company.”The idea of “giving to the customer” motivates everyone in the business, he adds. “Everybody’s pretty nice here and that has been one of the main drivers of the business, because customers really like that. In some dusty, fusty old bakery shops you don’t get that customer service. There are bakers who could do a lot better if they were more people-friendly.” n—-=== The Real Patisserie at a glance ===Locations: two shops 25 Western Road, Hove, and 43 Trafalgar Street, Brighton; a central bakery in New England St, BrightonStaff: 42 people, eight of which are bakersSupply: half and half retail/wholesale splitWebsite: [http://www.realpatisserie.co.uk]last_img read more

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Fostering skills

first_imgMomentum is gathering around the National Skills Academy Training Centre for Bakery. Whether this ends up based at Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA), as mooted, or emerges as a handful of satellite colleges, scattered across a wider geographic reach, is still up for debate. Fosters Bakery, for one, would like to see a national skills centre set up in Barnsley. This is not surprising – Fosters is based in Barnsley.But the town, something of a hotbed of bakery action, makes a good case for being involved in the national set-up. Bakers large and small in Yorkshire and Humber are particularly clustered around Barnsley. The map opposite, from a study undertaken by regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, shows that Barnsley has some 6,000 bakers working across the town.Given that Barnsley College is undertaking a £60 million rebuild, including a bakery, what better place to locate the National Skills Academy than there, asks, Michael W Taylor, operations director of Fosters Bakery. And a renewed emphasis on skills training has paid off for this baker over the last four years.== Career pathway ==”During my time at Fosters Bakery we have developed new initiatives to address education and skills issues. The principle behind these initiatives was to create a career pathway for all our employees, through lifting the skills level of each individual to enhance our reputation and that of our customers,” says Taylor, who was appointed operations director in October 2004.His brief was to develop a stronger culture of investment in people. Examples include two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with Sheffield Hallam University (Human Resources and IT); NVQ Levels 1 and 2 training, which is linked to pay and reward; and provision of opportunities to bring ex-offenders back into the workplace. In recognition that many local people do not choose to work in the bakery sector, it sought new labour sources from Eastern Europe and put in place English language training (ESOL) for them.However, this is a short-term solution to the local labour shortage and the links with educational establishments should help address this issue in the longer term, says Taylor. This is where the national skills centre comes in.”The overall aim is for Fosters to stand out as an excellent and leading-edge employer in the industry,” he says. This will enable us to attract a far higher quality of recruit. An integral part of delivering this vision is to develop a skilled, committed and adaptable workforce that is able to contribute to a changing work and business environment. The initiatives implemented so far have helped contribute to this.”== local participation ==Furthermore, participation in the local community through school visits and work experience programmes has been a success. Fosters won the Barnsley Chamber’s 2006 business award for its commitment to education, through activities that have a positive impact on business, education and young people.And Taylor adds that links with Lindholme prison and Moorland Open prison in Doncaster have provided the company with some excellent trained bakers. Lindholme has an on-site bakery where prisoners can work while completing baking qualifications.”We have employed 10 members of staff from the prison in total, all of which have achieved either NVQ Level 2 or 3 in bakery. Their expertise is valuable to the company and they have been paid in accordance with our grading structure, which is linked to the attainment of NVQs. Their expertise is shared with fellow colleagues and they have provided inspiration to others to progress to this level,” he says. In addition, one employee on a six-week placement through the ’Entry to Employment’ scheme has proved himself very capable, despite having no bakery experience. “When his placement is finished, we will be offering him full-time employment,” says Taylor.Better skill levels among employees has paid off, with a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of making bread, he adds. “As staff are trained in bakery processes, they understand the science and technology behind the work they are undertaking. This has ensured they can identify potential problems and raise them, before it becomes a major issue. This has eliminated errors, which in turn has reduced waste.” n—-=== Need to know: ===There’s a shortage of food scientists and technologistsThe UK food and drink manufacturing sector employs some 9,000 food scientists and technologists. Currently one in four of these jobs is vacant.This role is vital to coming up with new products, developing processes that can save costs and increase productivity, without which new manufacturing machinery cannot be developed or commissioned.Yet as we are aware from our daily newspapers, students are no longer interested in sciences; graduates prefer business degrees and those who do opt for science are not attracted by our market sector.So what is being done about this? As part of the Sector Skills Agreement (see last week’s BB), Improve, the Skills Sector Council for bakery, has consulted with higher education funding bodies in England and Wales to access funding to develop a conversion course.The work is very much in its infancy but is aimed at delivering food scientists from within the workplace or from returnees to work. In order for this project to be a success, Improve says it requires expertise from employers and training providers to design, build and deliver the course content, so that food scientists can be grown for the sector.A number of other food sectors have shown great interest in this area, says Improve, and are working with universities to provide bursaries for students studying food science. This, and other activity, has seen a 4% increase in the number of students studying food science over the last two years.last_img read more

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Farm shop bakery opportunity

first_imgResearch from the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society has revealed that the number of Scottish farm shops has reached 120, with growth of between 15 and 20% over the last year. Sarah Anderson, communications officer of the National Farmers Union in Scotland said that while farm shops offered a “very pleasant” shopping experience, farmers had to diversify to survive.last_img

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The genius of Dr Allinson

first_imgSince autumn started in August this year, what better time to hear Dr Allinson’s reflections on how gloomy weather makes one, well, gloomy.On seeing the light: “There are some people so constituted that their very spirits depend in great measure on the weather. If it is bright and cheerful, they are well; but if it is dull and dark, they become depressed and dispirited. So it is more or less with all of us. A bright day makes us feel well, and a dull one more or less miserable. Moral: When possible, expose your body to the sunlight; it strengthens it, tones it, and preserves you against colds.”Next issue: fight the flablast_img

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british baker special award for services to the industry

first_imgWinner: Colin LomaxRank HovisThis year’s winner of the British Baker Special Award for Services to the Industry is known to many because he has given time, talents and support to every sector of bakery. Colin Lomax of Rank Hovis is renowned for encouraging students, helping craft, plant and in-store bakers, giving demonstrations and giving up his own time to develop and inform others.Even when he relaxes, he is seemingly ’on duty’. Last year he and his wife Carol celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with a special holiday in Turkey. While browsing in a baker’s shop, as one does, he saw a maize loaf. So on his return, he developed a mix for the bread. He says enthusiastically: “The loaf cuts well, eats well and will be launched in Morrisons shortly!”That same sort of interest and passion was present right at the start of his career too. Colin was ribbed at school for choosing cookery over woodwork. He left school at 15 and went to work for one of the best bakeries in the north west Greenhalgh’s. Here, as a trainee baker and confectioner, he says that owner Alan Smart and others taught him to do things right first time.After four years, he moved to Hampsons Bakery, then owned by Warburtons, in the days when it had retail shops. During the next four years, he ran the bakery, savouries and confectionery departments, while continuing his studies at Bolton Tech. He gained six bakery qualifications, including City and Guilds and a full technology certificate, including microbiology, cake decoration, art and design.In 1974, Colin joined Rank Hovis. He began as a technical representative in the north west and then Scotland. He also moved into plant bakeries, as well as craft. From 1976-78, he was involved in making bread for the Hovis TV advertisements, while also working on improving products and developing recipes.”I was learning all the time going to good bakeries, meeting great people,” says Colin. He remembers visits to “wonderful bakers such as Ainsleys of Leeds and Woodheads of Scarborough, among others”.Increasingly, Colin was called on to judge bakery competitions and Hovis ran its own until 1990. Then they stopped. But nine years ago, he reintroduced them for students and his efforts were worth it. He says: “For 2009, with the help of some excellent college tutors, we received a record 400 Hovis and Granary entries at the annual bakery students conference in Torquay!”Colin’s cajoling, his enthusiasm for his craft and a strong desire to impart his knowledge to the next generation played a major part. And he will always make time to give advice and make suggestions.His vast knowledge, combined with his gift for public speaking and a sharp sense of humour, have contributed to many invitations that have come his way. But Colin sees serving the industry in this way as a privilege. He has been chairman of the British Society of Baking, president of the National Federation of Bakery Students, he sits on the committee of bursary-awarding Baking Excellence and started the Hovis Scholarship six years ago to fund learning nurturing some brilliant students along the way.Colin, who is from Bolton, but now lives in Andover, Hants, also serves on the committee, setting up the new National Skills Academy for Bakery, which is developing a skills course for the future of baking.As technical sales manager, Colin gives many demonstrations to supermarkets and companies and runs hands-on workshops for those who need to learn the basics of how to make a good loaf even though they may be accountants or company directors in a bakery environment. Last year, he was invited to give a keynote talk to the Worshipful Co of Bakers. But he can just as easily be found addressing Women’s Institute meetings around the country.He is most renowned for his nationwide responsibility for troubleshooting, improving production and process control and this has made him an excellent judge. He has presided over competitions for the National Association of Master Bakers, the prestigious Richemont Club and many others. He was also chosen to do the craft baking training module for online training programme the Bakery School.Soon, Colin will be back on TV, talking about bread in a new programme for the BBC. He says: “I have a passion for Rank Hovis and our products and am really proud of our industry. There are some superb bakers around and this industry offers great opportunities for those with skills. We must get that feeling of pride across to bakers of the future.”And there is no-one more inspirational than Colin Lomax. When interviewed for this award under the guise of an article on NPD it was hard to overcome his modesty. But Colin is funny, entertaining and hugely knowledgeable. And a very worthy winner of the British Baker Award for Special Achievement and services to the industry.Sylvia Macdonaldlast_img read more

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Cornish pasties make progress on PGI status

first_imgCornish pasties could be granted PGI status within seven months, after the case was published in the Official European Union Journal.If no objections are raised from other EU member states (outside the UK) in the next seven months, it will mean that only Cornish pasties made in Cornwall to a traditional recipe will be allowed to be called Cornish pasties.”For the Cornish pasty to now be published in the Official European Journal is a huge step forward for the application,” commented Larry File, chairman of the Cornish Pasty Association (CPA). “This is the final stage in the process, which we hope will be completed in the next six months. The consultation process in the UK has been extensive and we do not anticipate there being objections from the other European member states.”The CPA, formed in 2002, consists of 50 members, who recently produced a film to support the PGI application. This had its first public screening at the Royal Cornwall Show last month.last_img read more

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Real Bread Campaign targets ’fresh’ descriptor

first_imgThe Real Bread Campaign (RBC) has reopened the debate as to what consitutes ’freshly’ baked bread with the launch of its latest drive, which has seen bake-off breads come under fire.As previously reported by British Baker in December 2010, bakery retailers selling products that have previously been frozen could be forced to label them as pre-frozen or defrosted under proposed EU legislation. A spokesperson for the RBC said that after a loaf has been fully baked, it has no problem with it being frozen, but he claimed that: “Bake-off loaves are not freshly baked, they are re-baked, and we believe that marketing them as fresh, is misleading.”A spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said all its members fully complied with current EU leglisation. She noted there are two proposed amendments currently being debated at European level. The first is simply to include the words ’pre-frozen or defrosted’ to the list of treatments that a product has undergone, where to not tell the customer would be misleading. She said the BRC supports this, as the practice is already adhered to by its members.”The second proposed amendment would also remove the clause that says ’where not to tell the customer would mislead them’,” she added. “This is going too far. How would it benefit the consumer if it makes no difference to the quality of the product? Our concern is that consumers will mistake pre-freezing as giving you a product of lesser quality, which is, by and large, not the case.”Stanley Cauvain, director of bakery consultancy BakeTran, said the debate as to what consitutes ’freshly’ baked bread has been rumbling on for more than a decade, and is no closer to reaching a definition. He said the second bake does increase the rate of subsequent staling, but added: “To me the only remaining question is whether the marketing of re-heated bread as fresh is morally or ethically correct. As far as the bread product is concerned it is scientifically ’fresh’.”last_img read more

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Portage woman charged with animal cruelty after DIY dog neutering

first_img Twitter Portage woman charged with animal cruelty after DIY dog neutering By Network Indiana – June 15, 2020 0 749 Facebook Pinterest Previous articleChurch Community Services kicks off annual Teen Growers InternshipNext articlePolice pursuit in Elkhart County ends with deadly crash Network Indiana Pinterest Twitter Google+ IndianaLocalNews Google+ WhatsApp (“Cuffs4” by banspy, Attribution 2.0 Generic) PORTAGE, Ind. — A Portage woman faces a felony count of animal cruelty after trying to neuter her dog by herself.Kimberly Oldham, 62, frequently got complaints that her dog was not neutered, but she could not afford to get the procedure done. Oldham turned to her neighbors for cheap neutering advice, and one of them told her an elastic band would make the dog’s testicles fall off painlessly.One night, Oldham took this advice, but when she woke up, she found that her dog was chewing the area, causing it to bleed. Oldham took her dog to the Hobart Animal Clinic, where the found the dog suffered severe trauma, and needed proper neutering to stay alive.Oldham was arrested Sunday evening. The dog remains at the Hobart Animal Clinic, and will be put up for adoption soon. WhatsApp Facebooklast_img read more

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Notre Dame Football announces results of latest COVID-19 tests

first_img WhatsApp Notre Dame Football announces results of latest COVID-19 tests Pinterest Twitter Previous articlePlymouth company seeking additional funding for military projectNext articleEconomic impact of Big Ten announcement worries Bloomington, West Lafayette Tommie Lee By Tommie Lee – August 12, 2020 0 511 Pinterest Facebook (Jon Zimney/95.3 MNC) The University of Notre Dame says two players received positive results from the latest round of COVID-19 tests.center_img August 12 – Testing Update pic.twitter.com/IrqREqRH8A— Notre Dame Football PR Team (@NDFootballPR) August 12, 2020In a statement Wednesday, the school said 117 student athletes from the football program received testing on Monday. Of those 117 tests, two came back with positive results for coronavirus.One of the athletes was mildly symptomatic and the other was showing no symptoms. Both students are in isolation and their families have been notified. Seven other athletes are in quarantine as well due to contact tracing.Forty-three staff members associated with the team were also tested, and all tested negative.Notre Dame has administered a total of 619 tests to members of the football program, with four positive results. CoronavirusIndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend MarketSports Facebook WhatsApp Google+ Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Speech: Recognising ECOWAS and Civil Society’s Role in Resolving Crisis in Guinea-Bissau

first_imgThank you Mr President, and thanks to SRSG Toure and the other briefers for sharing their views and insights.The situation in Guinea Bissau is concerning. It is not the first country in the world to experience a political impasse. But it is a country still emerging from serious instability and violence in its recent past.This political impasse has prevented progress on reforms that are critical to addressing key conflict risks in Guinea Bissau. The situation is only likely to become more volatile as we move towards elections. We have already seen violent confrontations between demonstrators and police, and witnessed worrying efforts to curb political freedoms. Economic growth is at risk and a serious deterioration in stability would be deeply damaging for development and human rights. The illicit economy and transnational organised crime risk becoming further entrenched – with global implications. More broadly, instability in Guinea Bissau will affect the wider region, which over the last year has been, for the most part, the site of positive political progress.Mr President,The United Kingdom welcomes the leadership shown by the West African region, particularly through ECOWAS. It has shown persistence and patience; this is a crisis that started in 2015. It brokered the Conakry Agreement 15 months ago. It has agreed to countless communiques and published innumerable statements. It has sent numerous high level delegations to Guinea Bissau – three in the last six months alone.But now those most responsible for Guinea Bissau’s crisis responded with stubborn refusal to give ground and find compromise.Therefore, it is understandable that the region’s patience has worn thin. ECOWAS has now forced to sanctions against individuals deemed responsible for impeding implementation of the Conakry Agreement. The African Union PSC has endorsed this move. The United Kingdom supports ECOWAS decision and we urge the Security Council and the whole international community to remain united in support of ECOWAS efforts.We also believe it is important to recognise the bold efforts of civil society in Guinea Bissau to resolve the crisis. In particular, the mediation efforts led by the Women Facilitator’s Group were an encouraging initiative and we welcome the support given to them by the UN.As set out in resolution 2343, political support from UNIOGBIS for efforts towards implementation on the Conakry Agreement should be a priority for UNIOGBIS. The key next step remains appointment of a consensus Prime Minister so that preparations can go ahead for legislative elections in 2018, as per the country’s constitution.As we open discussions on its renewal, the UK will focus on ensuring the Mission’s mandate responds to the political reality on the ground today and that it is focused on the highest priority needs.Mr President,Guinea Bissau’s people watched the country emerge from a period of instability but then found their hopes for democracy obstructed by a political knot which their own leaders tied. Support from the region and the international community to prevent the country from backsliding further will not succeed until those who tied the knot untangle it. We hope that good sense, compromise and a commitment to Guinea Bissau’s future prevails.Thank you.last_img read more

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