The theatre of baking is at the heart of the Amano café concept, which is to be rolled out across London and ultimately nationwide.

Amano already has two outlets in London and has £2m of funding to launch a further four cafés in the capital in the next year.

Operations director Ed Bentley told British Baker that after the London cafés are open he expects to launch a further 20 outlets around the country over three years. It has already agreed terms for a 2,500sq ft café near the Tate Modern art gallery in London and a site at the Broadmead Shopping Centre in Bristol, which will not open until 2008.

Open 16 hours a day, Amano cafés offer sandwiches and snacks in the day, with an evening pizza and grill menu. Bread and pizza bases are baked from scratch by hand in-store in view of customers. "The oven is at the heart of the concept. We want to bring theatre to the front of house," said Bentley.

The baking process has been simplified so that one dough recipe is used for the bread, pizza bases and bread sticks served with the soup. A type of flat bread is made for the sandwiches using ’double O’ flour imported from Italy, extra virgin olive oil and a ’sourdough’ flavour from Puratos.

The dough is proved at ambient temperatures for around three hours and baked off. Staff are trained by either Bentley or by other staff - a process that can take as little as five hours.

Amano was set up in 2004 by Bentley and CEO Jonathan Cooper, who co-founded the EAT sandwich chain.