Why the hell would you want to start a bakery?!?

Not many life changing projects are inspired by two fat and deeply unattractive British men, but this is no ordinary dream.

The Hairy bikers molesting some dough

Disenchanted and disheveled with our career paths at a large corporation, we escaped our rabbit hole cubicles like freed zoo animals and went on a “fastpacking” adventure across Europe for 9 months. We sought athletic challenge, adventure, escapism and often pondered even deeper — “what the hell do we want to do with our lives?”. Many ideas were floated, shot down, torn-up or researched only to find we were beaten to the punch. At no point did a light bulb go off in either of our heads to say we wanted to bake bread for the rest of our lives, even as we scoffed down slice after slice of empty white-carbs each day in an attempt to consume enough calories to keep us going on the trail.

We ran through hikes in New Zealand, Scotland and France for up to four weeks at a time, enjoying the freedom but still without any direction beyond the end of our planned trail running adventures. We then went to Norway to run an obscure trail in the southeast. To be honest, this was on the trail running list for three reasons: We had always put scandanavian style and design on a pedestal, the trekking huts looked amazingly comfortable, and the Hairy Bikers.

A few years ago I watched a mouthwatering TV episode of these two British TV chefs motorbiking around Norway as a part of their “Bake-ation” series. In one particular scene they visited a traditional Nordic bakery where they massaged a bubbly sourdough starter and folded in fresh, simple ingredients. The second they broke open the crisp crust to reveal a light, moist loaf with huge bubbles, I knew I had to visit Åpent Bakeri in Oslo where they were filming.

We oriented our weekend in Oslo around Åpent Bakeri visiting twice in 24 hours. The breads were pretty good but the concept of a relaxed cafe setting with the ability to cut and enjoy your fresh new loaf with a tub of ‘free-for-all’ house-made jam really got us excited. From here we started to seek out the best sourdough bakeries wherever we went, including the brilliant Kanelsnurren in Stavanger and Perkana Osem in Ljubljana.

Meanwhile, I had just convinced my parents to try going gluten-free for a few weeks and Rosie had been on an ultra-strict elimination diet for over 12 of the last 18 months where not eating grains was just at the top of the very long list.

If we really were to open the Åpent Bakeri of New Zealand we’d have to solve these three issues that I’m sure were also setting off alarm bells at home when we floated the idea to our families.

  • We don’t really know how to bake
  • Gluten insensitivity is becoming more and more prominent
  • The need to shift gears from working at a large corporate to starting our own business and brand

All three are pretty tough challenges but we believe in ourselves, our intellect and the ability to learn quickly. Effectively, we’re trying to go against the 10,000 hours rule and hack the path to become successful bakers!