Artisan bread service launched by former chef
- Credit: James Rouse Photography
A former chef who lost his job during the pandemic has found himself with a burgeoning bakery business just three months after launching.
Having started baking for friends and family this summer Simon Gray started selling his loaves and tray bakes – and it’s now flying off the shelves.
“I never expected it to snowball like this. I was on furlough for a few months and had become a bit disillusioned with being a chef anyway and wanted to look at doing something new. I started baking vegan bread as well as some focaccia and bagels and it went from there really,” he said.
Mr Gray’s offering at SJG Foods currently consists of white and granary bloomers, as well as bagels, rolls and two sizes of focaccia.
Thanks to his culinary background he has also experimented with ingredients – the majority of which are sourced locally – and so often has specialities on sale such as olive and red onion chutney, and sun-dried tomato and paprika focaccia.
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The 30-year-old Hemsby chef went on: “Within a couple of weeks I had some regular trade clients as well as people I was delivering to. I go out and do the deliveries myself which I really enjoy. At the moment it’s so rare for us to get out and meet people properly and I’ve met lots of lovely customers which has been a highlight.”
Mr Gray has been waking up at around 4am on a regular day to bake around 30 to 40 loaves of bread.
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However on days when he goes out to famer’s markets he has to wake up as early as 1.30am.
He said: “I have so many people asking me about sourdough but at the moment I just can’t do it because of the time and oven space it will take up. It’s already getting to the stage where I’d look at taking on premises but it has to be the right combination of price and location.
“Having said that I am keen to get into private dining in the vegan and vegetarian market. I’ve got a lot of experience in vegan restaurants and discerning how ethical ingredients and practises actually are instead of what they claim to be.”
The bread can be ordered online at the SJG Foods website.