Stephen Kramer, recently elected Master of The Worshipful Company of Bakers, on getting to know the baking industry
In November, I had the honour of being elected and installed as Master of The Worshipful Company of Bakers for the next year. It is proving to be a sharp learning curve and is already shaping up to be an enjoyable and busy year.
As is obvious from my title, I am not a baker, nor am I in the baking industry. I am a recently retired Old Bailey judge. Before I became a judge I was a self-employed criminal barrister and QC. So how did I end up as a liveryman of The Worshipful Company and now Master?
The reason is that nowadays, on appointment to the Old Bailey, which is historically the Crown Court for the City of London, it is expected that a judge should put something back into the life of the City. The obvious way of doing that is by joining a livery company and contributing to the educational and charitable work that is done by such companies. I found that I knew quite a few people in the Bakers’ company. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The company membership comprises not only bakers and people in allied jobs, but also people in a variety of other professions and occupations.
And, whether or not the Master is in the trade, we retain and continue to promote our links with the baking industry.
I am very aware of the fact that I needed to learn more about baking and the industry. So I have been undergoing some self-imposed education.
Over the past few months I have spent time at Bakels in Bicester and at Fine Lady Bakeries in Banbury, observing and, on occasion, being allowed to be hands-on. In addition, I spent a morning at Dunn’s of Crouch End where I experienced at first hand the work done by dedicated craft bakers; I suspect my wife’s description of my role that morning as “the bakers’ boy” is accurate. I did all sorts of things that day which – I hope – helped.
Finally, I have been on a bread-making course; my rye bread is not to be scoffed at!
The result of all this is that I am now the most dangerous of creatures: someone with a little knowledge who thinks he knows more than he does. If you want to see fuller reports of my experiences, do look at the news section of the Bakers’ Company website.
I look forward to meeting many of you during my year in office. And if anyone out there thinks that there are more strands to my education that I need to add, please do get in touch. I am open to doing more.