Passion, skills, and community spirit were in abundance at The Artisan Collective 2024, which took place at The Compound in Birmingham on 30 January.

The event, sponsored by Angel Refrigeration, Craggs & Co, and Rondo, was attended by scores of artisan bakers who came together to network, share ideas, and celebrate the community.

It was rounded off by an awards ceremony during which British Baker revealed the Bakers’ Dozen 2024 – a list detailing the top 13 artisan bakeries in Britain as voted for by industry experts.

A space to share ideas

Networking and community learning were at the heart of the day with plenty of time to share ideas and problem solve through common experiences.

Fantastic food

Top notch baked goods were guaranteed with open sandwiches, salt beef bagels, and more provided by Baked In Brick. Attendees were also encouraged to bring along their own creations to share with each other – the event was kickstarted with a short session in which the bakers took to the stage to present stories of how the baked goods came to life. 

Sourdough masterclass

Guests were treated to a sourdough masterclass with Wayne Caddy, baker and founder of Sourdough Slingers. He demonstrated the sourdough process from start to finish, resulting in beautifully golden loaves which a lucky few were able to take home with them. Attendees were encouraged to get involved and ask questions along the way to maximise learning.

Community learning

With recruitment and retention being a continuing hot topic for the baking industry, the panel sessions started with a discussion about apprenticeships, how they work, and the potential benefits they could offer bakery businesses in the room.

After indulging in a slew of sweet and savoury delights, attendees were then invited to participate in several community-led learning sessions. The sessions ran at the same time to encourage discussion and collaboration among smaller groups of attendees, with each session running twice to maximise learning opportunities. 

Topics included:

  • How to make equipment work for you, led by Julie Croker from sponsor Angel Refrigeration
  • Building your community, with Aidan Monks and Catherine Connor from Lovingly Artisan, who explained how they got to know their ‘tribe’
  • Diversifying your business, which saw Lee Desanges from Baked In Brick discuss the world of possibilities available to artisan bakeries
  • How to make your artisan bakery more sustainable, with advice from B Corp expert Laura Slack
  • An impactful in-store experience, which saw Ashley Harley from Mimi’s Bakehouse and Ania Wadolowska from Old Store Norfolk discuss how they deliver an unforgettable experience for customers

British Baker will be publishing more from these sessions in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.