Steven Winter is the artisan baker behind Bread Source in Norwich and has just been crowned the East of England’s Bread Hero by the Tiptree World Bread Awards, for the second year running. Here he explains that it is the community of customers, friends and suppliers that makes it all possible
During lockdown, Steven Winter launched ‘The Bread Source National Loaf Scheme’, which helps those most in need access fresh bread by providing high quality, wholemeal artisan loaves for just £1. One of the reasons, no doubt, why the Norwich-based artisan baker has been crowned East of England’s Bread Hero by the Tiptree World Bread Awards for the second year running.
In addition, Steven has reduced the bakery’s wastage to nearly zero; formed links with local farmers to provide free food for their livestock; and invested in new, more environmentally friendly technology, reducing the amount of energy the bakery uses.
And he has done all this whilst maintaining employment of his 60 staff and training up four young people who were previously receiving Universal Credit to become bakers.
How proud are you of the National Loaf Scheme?
We’re very proud of to be able to rekindle and reinvent the National Loaf Scheme (NLS). However, the fact that anyone is facing food poverty in 2021 is something that we’re passionate about doing our bit through various schemes and plans beyond the NLS. Simply, as bakers, we are committed to our social responsibility to ensure that good food is available to all members of our community.
From a baker’s perspective, revisiting historical recipes is always a very interesting process – unpicking how the industry has moved on, but also what has stood the test of time. For us, the recipe we ended up producing was a great tasting, slowing rising, highly nutritious loaf made using only 100% stoneground wholemeal flour, sea salt, water and yeast. This loaf doesn’t just taste great but is designed to sustain you throughout the day.
Is this the second year running that you and the team have won the award? Why do you think that is?
As individuals that make up Bread Source, everything we do is always deliberate and must have a purpose. As a by-product of this we are all deeply committed to our community of friends, customers and suppliers that make it all possible – so for us to then be able to give back; offering education to young people for example – is part of who we are. Our litmus for any activity, new product, idea, or concept is simple: “are we doing the right thing, for the right reasons?” Put simply… #DoughTheRightThing.
What environmentally friendly practices have you put in place at the bakery?
Since Bread Source first opened its doors 10 years ago, we have always seen it as a responsibility to make ecologically considered decisions where possible. It all starts at the heart of every product with our ingredient sourcing, grain, flour, and salt from Essex, fruits and vegetables grown in Norfolk and – more recently – meat from locally reared, high-welfare livestock.
Beyond these, we have been able to recently upgrade some of our equipment in the bakery, as well as in our café spaces. A particularly exciting investment was our new espresso machine at the bakery – the most efficient in the world – arguably making every cup that little bit sweeter! Since launching delivery back in early 2020 we also made it our goal to make all our city drops less polluting, especially when we saw other delivery vehicles idling for minutes at a time – now the local Bread Source delivery fleet is all electric.
Gadgets and machinery aside, in the last 12 months we’ve taken the time to build relationship with other Norfolk based businesses that can help us reduce our food waste burden. For completely good, but just unsold product, we donate as much as we can to food banks and similar charities. At the other end of the spectrum, a recent exciting collaboration has been with Ampersand Brew Co in Diss – helping us to brew “A Brew Loaf Story” using wasted loaves from our sites.
Any plans for the future of Bread Source you can share?
We’re always looking at new opportunities to grow sustainably and keep producing delicious bakes for the good people of Norfolk. This Christmas keep an eye out for some brilliant new products, as well as some re-inventions of seasonal classics!
Visit @bread_source on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or head to the website bread-source.co.uk. In normal times, the Tiptree World Bread Awards celebrate the bread; loaves from around the country would be delivered for assessment by a panel of judges. Building on the success of last year, the Awards once again celebrated the UK’s Bread Heroes – the people behind the loaves: from farmers and millers; to bakers and educators. Hundreds of nominations were sent in from across the UK and 13 regional winners were selected by the judging panel.
Credited to me if possible, Rosie Mills-Smith