“We want people to stop at our Borough Market stall, take a bite, and say “wow, that’s amazing”. They should feel like they’re having a Michelin-starred experience on the street… and that’s what’s happening. They tell their friends, who come along the next week, and it’s like a wave.”
If you’re a regular at Borough Market, you’ve probably noticed Bread Ahead, which opened up at the end of 2013. Matt Jones, the co-founder, has opened the bakery of his dreams (as you can see by his words above), which includes the bakery, a purpose-built bakery school and a stall in Borough Market.
Matt brings a wealth of wisdom to Bread Ahead as the founder of Flour Power bakery, which operated in Borough Market for several years. Bread Ahead is Matt’s new venture with Justin Gellatly, formerly of St John’s Bakery. With Aidan Chapman of River Cottage now on-board to teach the classes, Matt describes the trio as “a powerful force”.
Bread Ahead is on a mission to ‘bring fine baking to the masses’ and their Twitter clearly shows this is working, with endless tweets from all over shouting about the great doughnuts. Other artisanal bakery products on offer include cheese and olive sticks, sourdough and bloomers – but people are not just heading to the stall and bakery to buy, many are after a full learning experience.
Matt had been trading for 15 years and had been looking for a site for a long time when a large space in Borough Market came available. “My idea was to have a bakery and school in the same place,” says Matt. “I‘d sold bread for a long time but I’d never had the space to engage customers – this was my opportunity to bring people in and have fun.”
The classes are clearly successful with over 25 ‘modules’ running and a whole range of people coming to learn about baking croissants, gluten free products, Italian bread and more. “We have a real mix from complete amateurs to professionals. The specific topics mean customers really get into the nitty gritty. They go away with a bag full of bread and a head full of knowledge – some will come back six times or more!”
Local businesses are also drawn to the school, with one large company already on its third visit for a three-hour corporate class. Bespoke classes are also offered, one example being a Thanksgiving dinner for a group of friends where ingredients were sourced from Borough Market before preparing for the feast.
Another area of the business is wholesale and Matt is proud to provide bakery products to businesses including Fortnums, Quaglinos and local restaurants Brindisa and Roast. Matt loves the local community feel in Borough and London Bridge and it’s clear Bread Ahead would not have been launched anywhere else.
“In 15 years of working in Borough Market the area’s changed so much but every major new opening has been great, from the launch of the London Eye to More London opening the whole riverfront. Borough was once a destination for a Saturday – now it’s six days a week,” says Matt.
Bread Ahead will continually evolve but it will stay local, in just one destination. Matt continues: “This area has such a good vibe – it’s the capital’s food destination, with independent retailers and like-minded people, and it’s great to be nestled among them.”
Bread Ahead is at 3 Cathedral St, London SE1 9DE and the market stall is open Monday to Saturday. Bakery classes start at £75 for half a day.