Norwich baker wins top award after lockdown efforts
- Credit: Archant
At the start of the pandemic, Bread Source bakery didn’t sell online.
But as the pandemic unfolded it found its products, including loaves, pastries and baking ingredients, in high demand. Its website had to quickly become a focus – and at the peak of lockdown, it was delivering 200 orders a day online.
Its fast evolution is one of several factors which saw owner Steve Winter and his team work around the clock, and one which has now earned him the World Bread Awards: Bread Heroes accolade for the East of England.
As lockdown continued, Mr Winter started, and still offers, a 20pc discount for frontline, NHS and social care workers and kept the bakery – which is based on Marriott Close, in Norwich, and has city stores in Upper St Giles, Bridewell Alley and Norwich market, as well as in Aylsham – open almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure it was accessible for shift workers.
He also launched The Bread Source National Loaf Scheme, which provided free or low price loaves for those who needed it.
At one point, he offered 100 free loaves to those who had been made redundant in the hospitality industry, before reaching out to bakeries elsewhere around the country to see if they could do something similar.
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It was an enormously busy time, and he said the challenge of running a business during lockdown was a “real worry”.
“However, at the same time felt we had a big responsibility to our dedicated team and local community to carry on,” he said. “Creating a safe working environment, paying staff and getting food to people who needed it safely were our key objectives.”
MORE: Zero to 200 orders in two weeks: How Bread Source beat lockdownLong days and nights might be a given for a bakery, but he said lockdown intensified that rush, adding that he was “so proud” of his team, who had worked around the clock.
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And when asked for his memories of that initial rush in spring, he said: “Early memories were mainly panic that our business that we had spent nine years creating could vanish overnight. Our team could lose their jobs. How do we do this all safely?
“We planned meticulously everyday to ensure we were always doing the right and best thing we could. One of the memories I will never forget is the huge socially distanced queue at Marriott Close – almost snaking to the main road.
“Delivering over 200 orders a day while playing ‘rate Norwich’s best door’ will also remain a fond memory.”
Since then, things have stayed busy. Mr Winter said they had maintained sales, and that the web sales that saw them through lockdown had started to transition into high street custom.
The business has employed three new bakers and hopes to create more jobs and training for young people.
They also have their eyes on a new shop, which they could potentially open in the new year.
Mr Winter said he was pleased to win the award, but that it had not been earned by him alone.
“The award was a great honour for all the hard work of the entire Bread Source family,” he said. “From baking free bread for the local food charities to opening until 2am for NHS and key worker staff – its always great to be recognised.”
In normal times, the Tiptree World Bread Awards Heroes with Brook Food would recognise the best loaves from those shortlisted - but this year decided to celebrate the people behind the products instead.
After a ceremony last week, Mr Winter was named as one of 12 regional winners recognised for their achievements.
An exhibition of portraits by photographer Henry Kenyon of the 12 Bread Heroes will now travel to venues in London and Nottingham.