The Bristol Loaf, which opened last month, prides itself on being part of the community.
“Because we’re a little way outside the city centre, in Redfield, we have a fantastic footfall from people passing through,” says owner and founder Gary Derham. “Also, being in a suburb, we are a real part of the community that surrounds us – and that’s exactly the way I wanted it to be.”
A trained chef, Derham was most recently a director and operations manager at The Old Market Assembly, also in Bristol. “It was an amazing concept that involved everything from food and films to live music and theatre,” he says. “It made me realise that this was the side of it I really loved.”
It was while working there that he and his head baker Sanjay Patel hatched the plan to work together on The Bristol Loaf. “I loved the bakery offering, and Sanjay and I knew we shared the same ideals.”
Derham says the move from a large company to a pared-down, personal one, was very intentional. “There’s a certain machismo to hospitality, a fire and an ego. You don’t get that in bakery – well, not that I’ve seen so far,” he laughs.
Joking aside, he says the attitude of the bakers and those they serve is markedly different. “Everyone here is genuinely happy, which is amazing – the guys in the kitchen and behind the counter, but also the customers. People love bakeries – it is the most fantastic, traditional industry.”
A four-strong team work under Patel in the bakery’s open kitchen, which is light and airy. A large coffee machine sits on the counter, behind which blackboards list daily bread, cake and sandwich offerings. The quality of the coffee had to complement that of the bread, says Derham. “Otherwise it would be like serving a Michelin-starred meal with a can of fizzy drink.”
In that same vein the bakery has its own alcohol licence, not because it wanted to become another local bar but because, says Derham, that is how people enjoy bread in Europe. “I love the European attitude to alcohol and to good food. They don’t drink to get drunk but to complement the flavours in their food. This is the same idea."
There is always a red wine and a white wine on offer, which change periodically.
Although running for less than a week when British Baker visited, there are already plans to expand to other small communities around Bristol. “We want to go where we are going to be unique, welcomed and an asset to our surroundings,” says Derham.
The Bristol Loaf, Redfield
Who: Gary Derham, founder, owner and director. His extensive CV includes a fine art degree, owning and running a night club, being a trained chef, a marathon runner, having a career in hospitality, and two small children.
What: Bread takes pride of place, accompanied by good coffee or wine, “depending on how you’re feeling at the time”. An alcohol licence and a focus on all things local, ethical and of the highest standard are what it prides itself on.
Where: 213 Church Road, Redfield, Bristol BS5 9HF
When: The shop opened for business on 10 June.
Why: While working in hospitality, Derham decided on a change of pace: “I wanted early mornings and wholesome, calmer things, not loud music, late nights and dancing on tables.”