Loaf HQ – coming soon in 2012

I just wanted to write a quick blog post before I finish for Christmas to let you know our plans for the New Year. If you follow us on Twitter you’ll know by now that we have signed a contract for a lease on a new premises on our local high street in Stirchley, south Birmingham. This is great news as we’ve been operating from Jane’s and my house for 2 years now, and we’re bursting at the seams!

The property (pictured right) has been recently purchased by Everards the brewer, with the purpose of Loaf being their tenant at the building. the new Loaf HQ will be the first premises established as part of Everards’s ‘Project Artisan’ – an innovative scheme to purchase and then lease out buildings suitable for artisan food and drink businesses that need to expand, initiated by Everards after the success of their project to convert pubs for micro-breweries (Project Willam). Everards investment in the property means that Loaf can take on a bigger and more suitable premises than we otherwise could have done and we are very grateful that they came along when they did. We’re currently waiting on planning permission for the conversion of the premises, and there will then be 2 months of building work to complete. This means we are hoping to be in the new place by late March or April.

What will the new place do?

Loaf has been running a community bakery and cookery school for two years now, and the new premises is primarily an expansion of those – there will be a 12-person cookery school on site (visible from the pavement!), as well as a bakery producing a range of real bread for Stirchley and the surrounding area. They’ll also be a retail space, which Loaf is giving to South Birmingham Food Co-operative to run as a joint space. They will be selling our bread in the shop, alongside store cupboard essentials, wholefoods, and eco cleaning products etc – all ethically sourced and fairly priced.

Bread Bonds

Everards are investing in the refurbishment of the property, which is an enormous help, and means we only need to buy the equipment we need and fit it into the property when we’re handed the keys. We need to raise around £25,000 to kit out the bakery and cookery school. In January we will be doing a ‘bread bond’ issue which we hope will raise the majority of that cash. We are looking for people interested in buying ‘loanstock’ – essentially a £1000 loan to Loaf for 3 years. During the 3 years, bread bond holders will get an interest rate on their loan, which instead of being paid in cash will be paid in the equivalent value in bread. At the end of three years, the bread bond holder get’s their £1000 back. If this is something that might interest you and you’d like to be included in the bond issue or would like more details please email me at tom@loafonline.co.uk – I won’t be answering emails until after the new year, but I’m guessing you’ll be pretty busy too, and i’ll be in touch asap after new year.

There’ll be plenty of updates next year as the project progresses, so keep your eyes peeled to the blog or twitter for all the latest. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, Peace,

Tom.

Limited Edition Real Bread Tote Bags for sale!

loaf tote bagI’m very excited about our first foray into fashion – we recently commissioned Get a Grip studio to screen print 100 organic and fairtrade tote bags for us with a very special real bread design by The Loop Project – now they are yours to own! The bags are 40x38cm, and have short handles.

If you’d like a bag, you can go to our shop page and pay via paypal or email me to pay in cash in person. – they’re £5 each plus 80p P&P, or if you’re in Birmingham we may be able to arrange collection/delivery. I’ll also be selling them at the next Stirchley Market on the 1st March.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Award Winning!

We won an award – community business award for Selly Oak Constituency! Thanks to Matt Powell for nominating us, and great respect to Rob Grovesner of Headmasters and the girls at Maggies Munchies, also nominated, who are both doing great things in the community.

community business award

Loaf’s TV debut!

Glynn PurnellNext week on the Good Food Channel, Market Kitchen will be featuring the food scene in and around Birmingham, and Loaf is a part of it! During the summer the Market Kitchen team went on the road on it’s ‘Big Adventure’, visiting food hotspots all around Britain and filming chef’s, producers, and individuals with something interesting to say about food from their region. At the beginning of October they visited Birmingham and regular host Matt Tebutt teamed up with local chef Glynn Purnell to tour the regions food highlights. I had the pleasure of welcoming them both to Loaf HQ (aka my house) to chat to them about what I do, and take them on a little foraging foray down the River Rea. It turned out Matt is pretty familiar with foraged ingredients already, but lots of it was new to Glynn. Anyway we went out specifically for horseradish and nettles which we found, and I even got them eating raw nettles! The studio part of it was filmed a couple of weeks ago in London and my mate and local grocer Paul Leverton went down to the studio to give his expert opinion on all the dishes they concocted in the studio. You can catch Paul several times next week at 7pm on Monday-Friday, but I’ll be on the show on Tuesday. Sadly as I don’t have sky and am out anyway at an event i’m not going to get to watch it, can anyone record it for me?!?

We are one (again)

birthdayI know, I know, I’ve already posted about our first birthday back in August, however tonight is another one year milestone for us, as it’s exactly a year since we taught our first course (Handmade Pasta), and officially started trading. To celebrate we’re having a little party tonight at Loaf HQ with our bread club subscribers and a few significant others. Everyone’s bringing something homemade, so tonight I have no doubt that the best food and drink in brum will be right here! I’ve made Foccacia, mince pies, and chocolate tart, and I’ve heard on the grapevine that there’ll be homebrew, salt beef, Norwegian cake, and empandillias all arriving later. Now i’ve just got to get the place ship shape!!

Cotteridge pop-up pizza club round-up

pizza signSaturday night saw Loaf do it’s first ever (and perhaps the first ever?*) pop-up pizza takeaway. After the disastrous start to Saturday morning, the day turned fairly rapidly into one of the craziest and most fun of my loaf life. On the way back from the Jewellery Quarter towing our trailer of rubble, Jane and I tossed around ideas of how to use up all our ingredients ranging from making loaves of bread to sell the next day, to making quiches for sale at some local shops, to what we finally settled on doing – a pop-up pizza night. Over a calming cup of tea, we devised a flyer, wrote a blog post, and got the word out on Twitter about the pizza marathon, then headed out to pound the pavement and deliver some flyers to our  neighbours. Twitter went absolutely crazy during the day, in a large part due to Jenny Drew’s hardcore retweeting and social networking on our behalf (thanks Jenny!). We were the most talked about thing in Birmingham for most of Saturday and the top trend in the UK for about 15 minutes – google analytics showed visitors to this website tripled on Saturday, so thanks to everyone who helped get the word out there.

The tension was building here at Loaf HQ ready for the 6pm start – the fire was lit in my earth oven, friends were drafted in to man phones and door, ingredients and rolling pins were laid out, and aprons were donned. We had a few pre-orders via twitter and other means, and the phone went crazy for the first hour of service, meaning people had to wait a little longer than the advertised ten minutes, so thanks everyone for your patience. pizza 3The pizza’s were great on the whole with great feedback on twitter and text, although in the hurry a few may have come out overly ash-laden on the bottom (sorry if you got one of those!). By the end of the night I had met lots of amazing people, neighbours I never knew I had, and cooked about 70 pizza’s. I think we just about clinched victory out of the jaws of defeat!

A couple of special shout-outs to finish this post then. A massive sorry to everyone at the 24 Carrots Market for letting you down – I hope to return at a later date and do something extra special. A huge thank you to everyone who came and bought a pizza or seven (you know who you are). And finally massive thanks to my helpers on the night – the cool, calm, and collected Mike ‘Hello Loaf Pizza’s!’ Skinner, the charming host Martin ‘Martino Evano’ Evans, and my beautiful wife Jane, the fastest pizza maker in Cotteridge – I couldn’t have done it without you!

Finally, shall we do it again, whaddayarecon?

Cheers, Tom.

* I expect the first pizza’s were sold pop-up style in Naples all those years ago, so it’s nothing new really!

Dell Road Pizza Night Tonight!

Loaf were due to appear at today’s 24 Carrots farmers market in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, serving hot sourdough pizza’s from the mobile wood-fired oven. All was going well, up at 5am to hand-knead 20kg of dough, an hour of cheese grating last night, lots of kindling chopped and ready, oven looking fine. Having borrowed a van from local organic butcher Steve Rossiter, we hooked up the trailer and headed to the JQ at 8am. I drove really carefully, but sadly when we arrived at the market we were greeted by this sorry scene:

mobile pizza oven

After a few moments of confusion, Jane and I had a cup of tea and came up with an idea to turn disaster into adventure…

So for one night only, Loaf will be hosting the first ever* pop-up pizza takeaway restaurant!

Here’s the deal:

Local artisan baker Tom Baker is firing up his wood-fired oven for one night only (Saturday 16th Oct) to offer amazing hot sourdough pizza’s to takeaway tonight.

only £5 for a 9” pizza

(collection only)

Choose from organic Gloucestershire ham and mushroom, or red onion, black olive and basil.

Call Tom on 07811 178272  between 6pm & 10pm with your order & collect 10 minutes later from 7 Dell Road, Cotteridge!

* It might not be the first-ever, but we’ve certainly never heard of one. We’re making history people… 🙂

Eat Local short film

Back in the spring I had a crew of BCU media students come and do some filming with me – they were making a film about Birmingham’s local food scene and wanted to film me doing some baking, some local food shopping, and chatting about my views on local food. You can see the results in the 10 minute youtube film below. It also features my Friends Steve Rossiter, Paul Leverton and Audrey Miller. Thanks to Toby Nutter, Tobias Evans, Charlotte Percival and Hannah Quainton for putting it together:

Happy Birthday to us – Loaf is One!

birthdayWell, on this day on in 2009, Loaf was officially incorporated with Companies House as Loaf Social Enterprise Ltd. It’s amazing what can happen in a year, although I had (and still have) grand plans for Loaf, I’m still staggered with what we’ve achieved in a year. In the original plan I was going to continue working part-time with the NHS until April 2011 – this happened a year earlier. I’d like to share with you a few pivotal moments as well as some interesting facts to celebrate this auspicious occasion.

19th June 2009 – Tom starts www.loafonline.co.uk as a food blog

13th August  2009 – A board of directors is formed, sworn in, and the company is officially registered with Companies House as a social enterprise (company limited by guarantee)

16th October 2009 – Tom is featured in The Birmingham Post in an excellent feature by Richard McComb. This coverage kicks off a whole load more press coverage in the coming year.

14th November 2009 – Tom attends ‘The Rise of Real Bread’ conference in Oxford, has one too many beers with Dan and Johanna McTiernan from the Handmade Bakery, and plots his exit from the NHS on the train home.

18th November 2009 – Loaf Cookery School launches with the first Handmade Pasta course.

21st November 2009 – Tom runs the first Bread: Back to basics course, soon to become the most popular course at the cookery school.

22nd January 2010 – Tom starts the Community Supported Bakery supplying sourdough bread to 10 subscribers and Capeling & Co.

3rd February 2010 – Loaf provide bread for the Soil Association’s annual conference. Tom gets to meet his bread hero Andrew Whitley, who approves of the bread – phew!

May 2010 – Tom appears in the Virgin Trains onboard magazine and cookery school bookings go through the roof!

3rd July 201o – Loaf launch the third strand of their business – the mobile wood-fired pizza oven at the CoCoMAD festival in Cotteridge park – Tom and team make 180 sourdough pizza’s in six and a half hours.

27th July 2010 – Loaf are involved in launching Stirchley Community Market, a one-of-a-kind local food and crafts market in Birmingham. 36 loaves of bread sell out in 30 mins.

4th August 2010Tom appears in the Guardian Society as part of a discussion on the inaugural Stirchley Market and the role of local food in community building.

August 2010 – Tom’s bread courses are so popular that they sell out for the rest of 2010.

Since January 2010 Tom has made approximately 1500 loaves of artisan bread for the community bakery. These were all hand kneaded and baked at home.

Since November 2009, 153 people have attended courses at Loaf Cookery School.

Phew, what a year, thanks to everyone for helping us make it work this year, we couldn’t have done it without all our loyal bread buyers, course students, and of course, Richard Mccomb. A massive thank you as well to my amazing wife Jane Baker of Greensnapper Photography for being so supportive and for allowing her home to be turned into Loaf HQ. Here’s to a second successful year!

Happy Birthday to us – Loaf is One!

birthdayWell, on this day on in 2009, Loaf was officially incorporated with Companies House as Loaf Social Enterprise Ltd. It’s amazing what can happen in a year, although I had (and still have) grand plans for Loaf, I’m still staggered with what we’ve achieved in a year. In the original plan I was going to continue working part-time with the NHS until April 2011 – this happened a year earlier. I’d like to share with you a few pivotal moments as well as some interesting facts to celebrate this auspicious occasion.

19th June 2009 – Tom starts www.loafonline.co.uk as a food blog

13th August  2009 – A board of directors is formed, sworn in, and the company is officially registered with Companies House as a social enterprise (company limited by guarantee)

16th October 2009 – Tom is featured in The Birmingham Post in an excellent feature by Richard McComb. This coverage kicks off a whole load more press coverage in the coming year.

14th November 2009 – Tom attends ‘The Rise of Real Bread’ conference in Oxford, has one too many beers with Dan and Johanna McTiernan from the Handmade Bakery, and plots his exit from the NHS on the train home.

18th November 2009 – Loaf Cookery School launches with the first Handmade Pasta course.

21st November 2009 – Tom runs the first Bread: Back to basics course, soon to become the most popular course at the cookery school.

22nd January 2010 – Tom starts the Community Supported Bakery supplying sourdough bread to 10 subscribers and Capeling & Co.

3rd February 2010 – Loaf provide bread for the Soil Association’s annual conference. Tom gets to meet his bread hero Andrew Whitley, who approves of the bread – phew!

May 2010 – Tom appears in the Virgin Trains onboard magazine and cookery school bookings go through the roof!

3rd July 201o – Loaf launch the third strand of their business – the mobile wood-fired pizza oven at the CoCoMAD festival in Cotteridge park – Tom and team make 180 sourdough pizza’s in six and a half hours.

27th July 2010 – Loaf are involved in launching Stirchley Community Market, a one-of-a-kind local food and crafts market in Birmingham. 36 loaves of bread sell out in 30 mins.

4th August 2010Tom appears in the Guardian Society as part of a discussion on the inaugural Stirchley Market and the role of local food in community building.

August 2010 – Tom’s bread courses are so popular that they sell out for the rest of 2010.

Since January 2010 Tom has made approximately 1500 loaves of artisan bread for the community bakery. These were all hand kneaded and baked at home.

Since November 2009, 153 people have attended courses at Loaf Cookery School.

Phew, what a year, thanks to everyone for helping us make it work this year, we couldn’t have done it without all our loyal bread buyers, course students, and of course, Richard Mccomb. A massive thank you as well to my amazing wife Jane Baker of Greensnapper Photography for being so supportive and for allowing her home to be turned into Loaf HQ. Here’s to a second successful year!

Winterbourne Garden’s Outdoor Kitchen – 14th August 10am-6pm

image001This Saturday Loaf’s traveling pizza oven will be appearing at ‘The Outdoor Kitchen’ at Winterbourne House and Garden. Winterbourne Garden is part of Birmingham University and features seven acres of botanical gardens surrounding a gorgeous Edwardian villa. At the public Outdoor Kitchen event on Saturday you can (taken from their website)…

“Learn from the experts how to grow your own veg, with top tips on looking after your kitchen garden. Watch cooking demonstrations, take part in vegetable garden master classes and meet local food and drink producers. There will be tasting sessions running throughout the day and fruit, veg, cheese, bakery and deli stalls selling treats to take home.”

To find out more about Winterbourne Gardens, visit www.winterbourne.org.uk. Loaf will be serving wood-fired sourdough pizza’s from about 11.30 onwards – should be a great day.

BBC WM visit Loaf

BBC WMLast night we had the pleasure of hosting a live broadcast by BBC WM during their Drive Time show with Paul Franks. Franksy sent roving reporter Jennie Jones down to Loaf HQ (i.e. Tom’s gaf), to see what Tom’s getting up to, to bake some Ciabatta’s, and pop open some elderflower champagne. Tom featured on the show at 6.15pm and again at 6.45 pm – you can listen again in the next 6 days if you visit the Paul Franks Show on the BBC iPlayer – skip to 2:16 and then 2:44.

Loaf in the Guardian!

loaf stallLoaf had the privilege in helping launch and take part in Birmingham’s newest market last week at Stirchley Community Market. The market was a huge success with hundreds of people coming down to check out what was happening and support the fantastic stall holders that were there. Loaf took down 36 loaves of bread which sold out in the first half an hour, but fortunately we were also making wood-fired pizza’s which we sold out of a bit nearer to the end (though I promise we’ll make more next time!!). The place was teeming with journalists too, and the market has had lots of coverage this week, with the Birmingham Press featuring us last Friday, the Birmingham Post today, and the Birmingham Mail tomorrow. Amazingly the first market also made the national newspapers, with freelance journalist Chris Arnot writing a feature in Wednesday 4th August’s Guardian Society. You can read the full article by clicking here. There’ll be more to come hopefully, with a potential feature on BBC WM early next week – we’ll keep you posted!

Steve McCabe MP Visits Loaf

I had the pleasure of baking with my MP Steve McCabe today who showed a great deal of interest in what Loaf are doing. Steve’s written a blog post about his experience with loaf, you can read it by clicking here.

Quest for the Perfect Balti ends!

Well tonight, the quest for the perfect Balti, which I’ve been documenting on this dedicated blog, officially comes to an end, as I present my findings to a public debate on ‘how the Balti was invented’, at the Midlands Arts Centre. It starts at 7.30 and the full details of the event can be found on this page, but in the meantime, here’s a couple of my slides to whet your appetite: