Bringing Back Real Food

Introducing: The Loaf Team


Loaf has eight members of staff:

Tom Baker – Loaf Founder, Baker and Cookery School Tutor

Formerly an NHS nutritionist, Tom is a passionate home cook and sourdough baker and began teaching forgotten food skills from his home kitchen in 2009. Soon after he started a Community Supported Bakery, after being inspired by the Real Bread conference, originally baking for neighbours once a week using a wood-fired oven in the back garden. Also likes being a Dad. Good at back seat driving.

Sarah Frost – Baker

Sarah joined the Loaf team in 2013. Bringing with her a wealth of professional cake baking experience, she has a reputation that goes before her having established Frost and Snow, a successful city centre bakery which trained and employed people who had experienced homelessness. Sarah now bakes outstanding bread (and cakes) for Loaf full-time. Also likes cats and beards. Good at reaching things from low shelves.

Nancy Langfeldt – Administrator and Baker

Nancy has been with Loaf since the early days when the bakery and cookery school ran from Tom’s home in nearby Cotteridge. If you’ve ever booked on a cookery school course you will have been in touch with Nancy. She also keeps our books in order, and works the occasional shift in the bakery too! Nancy also works for the amazing Birmingham Bike Foundry also on Pershore Road. Also likes making clothes. Good at making sure Loaf doesn’t fall apart.

Rob Drew – Baker and Cookery School Teacher

Rob joined Loaf in September 2014 as a trainee baker having done some voluntary work baking bread at a community cafe in Sheffield where he got the sourdough bug. As well as baking you’ll find Rob making lunches, serving you in the shop, and teaching occasional bread courses too. Also likes Taylor Swift (a lot). Good at reaching things from high shelves.

Jordan Isherwood – Administrator

Jordan joined Loaf in March 2014 as a shop and cookery school assistant, and along with Martha immediately brought lots of joy to the shop! After a brief sabbatical to run a successful Birmingham floristry business as maternity cover, has returned to Loaf to help Nancy keep the books (and the team!) in order. Also likes botanical cocktails, especially involving gin. Good at making Loaf look pretty.

Martha Needham – Shop and Cookery School Assistant, Baker

Martha joined Loaf  in March 2014 as a shop and cookery school assistant, and along with Jordan immediately brought lots of joy to the shop! She quickly demonstrated that she can turn her hand to whatever! So she now regularly fills in on bakery shifts when bakers are on holiday, as well as making lunches, baking cakes, co-teaching courses,  literally whatever. Also likes  wine and burgers and being a ‘cool’ mom. Good at always being ridiculously happy.

Molly Adams – Shop and Cookery School Assistant

Molly joined the team in July 2015 to cover Jordan’s sabbatical and quickly became an integral part of the team so we couldn’t help but keep her on when Jordan returned. You’ll find Molly in the shop or helping out on courses, and baking the occasional cake for the bakery too. She’s also responsible for various bits of design work around the place like our tote bags and cookery school window display signs. Also likes Destiny’s Child. Good at drawing things.

Anna Claringbull – Baker

Anna joined Loaf in September 2015 after some successful shifts getting some work experience in the bakery over the Summer. Anna trained as a chef and has already worked at some top establishments including Michelen-starred Simpsons in Edgbaston. Anna has done a bit of everything since arriving and you will also find her serving in the shop, writing the lunch menu, and co-teaching and helping on courses. Also likes training puppies. Good at anything she puts her mind to.


Fougasse before baking
A fougasse before going into a wood-fired oven.

Introducing: the Loaf Advisory Board

We’d like to say a huge thank you to former Loaf directors Tim and Ria Evans who were instrumental in the planning, development and success of Loaf in the early days, and it’s transition to Stirchley high street. We wish you every success in the future.

Russ Freeman

As a Loaf advisor Russ is a key part of the team, offering commercial and property legal work on a pro bono basis, and general legal and marketing advice; “It’s nice to see that my legal and business skills are being put to tangible, positive use to support an enterprise that is trying to do things differently.”

Russ lives near Stirchley and has an interest in food and cooking, first discovering Loaf in the early days when the cookery school ran from the home of Tom and Jane Baker. After attending a Bread: Simply Sourdough course Russ has gone on to complete eight Loaf courses so far, including butchery, seafood and kitchen essentials courses.

Learning to cook at school, with a home economics teacher as a parent, and having once run a cheese shop, Russ says “I am concerned about the lack of basic cookery skills and food knowledge in the population as a whole. I believe that, apart from cookery on the TV, the only way to teach this properly is at a local level”. And that’s where Loaf comes in.

Michelle Smith

Michelle is the Operations Director at mac, a pioneering arts centre in Birmingham. Michelle brings to Loaf a broad range of project management skills and experience, from trading (catering, conferencing, retail) to customer services, and from sales and information to building and technical services. Her knowledge of human resources, health and safety and operational venue management have also contributed greatly to the successful development and growth of Loaf as a business serving our local community.

Having lived in Stirchley for nine years, Michelle first discovered Loaf in 2010 rolling up her sleeves for her first cookery school experience on the Bread: Back to Basics course. Since then she has gone on to complete nine Loaf courses including sourdough bread, butchery, seafood, preserving, foraging and pasta courses, and entered her marmalade in the World Marmalade Awards!

Michelle is a strong supporter of Loaf’s social aims: “The mix of teaching key cooking skills in a social – and really enjoyable – environment, providing a bakery with a strong link to the local community, creating quality produce, and having a strong ethical approach to developing the Social Enterprise really appeals to me”. In return Michelle says she has also learnt some valuable lessons from Loaf during her time as a Director, customer and as part of the Loaf family.

Jane Baker

Jane has a background in marketing and photography in the charity and arts sector, and is a freelance documentary photographer and writer. Formerly Marketing Manager at Loaf, she now works for Garden Organic in Ryton in addition to her freelance work. She is a keen gardener, lover of food, and of course Tom’s wife! Jane has been proud to see Loaf develop from it’s small beginnings in their home to the successful high street cookery school and bakery that it is today.

We couldn’t do it without you

We’re also hugely thankful to a range of freelance and volunteer professionals for their time, skills and support, including guest cookery school tutors and assistants, designers, illustrators, carpenters and website gurus. You know who you are. Here’s a few of their websites:

Guest Cookery School teachers

Loaf has a number of inspirational guest cookery school teachers, complementing the bread-baking at Loaf’s core, right through to butchery and oven building:

Lap-fai Lee (Fish and Shellfish courses, Pork Butchery, Knife Skills, Flavour Geography), Gordon Stovin (Bread), Rachel Carter (Preserving), Steve Rossiter (Butchery), and Lizzy Bean (of Magic Bean Bakery, earth oven building).