"I am very optimistic – not just about Gloucestershire" – says acclaimed baker
It is not just the bread, pastries and cakes which are something to feast on from The Artisan Baker, the optimism and energy having made it through lockdown are to be savoured too.
Ori Hellerstein, who trained at Le Cordon Bleau Cookery School in London and is a long-standing favourite of both customers at Stroud Farmers Market and The Great British Menu’s Matthew Fort, is feeling good.
He was talking to The Raikes Journal about the announcement he plans to move his business into Stroud’s new food market, a result of develop Dransfield’s £12million pound revamp of Five Valleys Shopping Centre.
GFirst Lep also provided a £1 million loan and a £3 million grant to make the town centre project happen.
“Our move into a customer-facing premises is long overdue – probably five years or so overdue,” said Mr Hellerstein, laughing at how long it had taken.
But during that time he has been busy building his business and its reputation for “delicious”, organic, high quality breads from all corners of the world - inspired by his childhood in Jerusalem where his mother ran a delicatessen in the German quarter of the city.
His focus is on provenance and qualuity of the ingredients and care of the environment. Don't expect to see any plastic packaging in sight.
He has also been working on a book, fittingly called The Artisan Baker, which has a forward by the aforementionedfan, food critic,television personality and Gloucestershire resident Matthew Fort.
Like many other small businesses and food producers he has worked hard through the lockdown to increase his on-line offering, open updirect deliver to customers and make plans for the future.
“I forgot about ‘making a profit’, through lockdown. It was about keeping going and being ready for when everything reopened,” said Mr Hellerstein.
He is pleased and proud to be able to say he has been able to keep his two staff, Julia Stitt and Brenden Cook, and The Artisan Baker now finds itself taking on the largest unit at the Five Valleys’ market, covering 855 sq. Ft.
Scheduled to open in September it will be transformed into aprofessional kitchen and café.
“People willbe able to come in and watch what we are doing and see the people making their food right behind the counter.
“They can ask us where every single ingredient comes from and we willbe able to tell them. And we have the most amazing coffee,” he said, referring to Tewkesbury-based Ritual Coffee, which he described as ‘delicious’
“I am trying to keep my suppliers in the county as much as I can.”
He added: “Opening a shop-front like this has long been a dream. I think it is the future. I am very optimistic – not just for Gloucestershire.”.
As well as the new range expected to be on offer. Those familiar with The Artisan Baker will still be able to enjoy his distinctive products include The Nelson Loaf (a South African seed bread named after Nelson Mandella) as well as sourdough, walnut bread and Jerusalem bagels.