The Baker Brothers and Stratford Food Festival
by Jayne Howarth
It’s been a rapid rise for the Cotswolds slow baker Tom Herbert, one half of the Fabulous Baker Boys
To say it has been quite a rollercoaster these last few months for Tom Herbert and his brother Henry is an understatement.
Since the brothers’ first television series The Fabulous Baker Boys was aired on Channel 4 earlier this year, it has been non-stop for Cotswolds butcher and baker.
Not only were the appointed Local Leaders for the London 2012, which saw them create the Olympic-inspired recipe Mount Olympus pudding, they organised the banquet for 800 people at the official launch of the Paralympics at Billingsgate, London, have been busy preparing for a second TV series and have headlined numerous food festivals up and down the country.
“This time last year we hadn’t even had the first series commissioned,” says Tom, the baker in the sibling partnership. “Now we are pinching ourselves, with the book, TV and everything else that’s going on.”
The brothers have an envious pedigree when it comes to championing real food. The family bakery, Hobbs House Bakery, in Chipping Sodbury, was founded by their grandfather in 1920 and has seen five generations of bakers take the helm.
The key to their award-winning success is keeping to traditional recipes. You will find nothing artificial in the artisan loaves, which include organic wholemeal, wild white, and light rye sourdough, and slow definitely wins the race.
“I am passionate about real bread. The reality is that 90 per cent of the bread in this country is made by a handful of factories and doesn’t even deserve to be called bread,” says the father-of-four. “It’s a chemical concoction.
“Ours has about a tenth of the yeast compared with commercial bread and doesn’t play havoc with the digestive system. OK, so it doesn’t cost 69p, but breads like this are still good value for money when you compare with a pint of beer. It’s about valuing what you put in your mouth.”
Tom and Henry, who owns a butcher’s shop next door to the bakery, will be taking their passion for real food to the Stratford Food Festival, which takes place in the historic town on September 22 and 23.
“It’s really good fun doing demos, but headlining a food festival that is local to us is really exciting and a privilege,” says Tom. “It’ll be great to meet lots of people and pass on our passion for great food.”
The brothers will top the bill on the Sunday and will follow a plethora of chefs, including Alan Coxon, Franck Pontais and barbecue king Ben Bartlett.
Audiences will be able to watch them rustle up mouth-watering savoury and sweet bakes and learn some of their tricks of the trade and witness their “pie-off” competition to close the festival.
Visitors to this year’s festival, now in its sixth year, will be able to sample artisan food products, many of them locally produced, as well as wines, Champagnes and craft beers.
The Stratford Food Festival takes place from 10am to 7pm on Saturday, September 22 and from 10am to 5pm on Sunday, 23. Tickets cost £5 on the gate, but discounted tickets can be bought online at www.stratfordfoodfestival.co.uk. Children under 16 go free.
Hobbs House Bakery sells its artisan breads and baking equipment online at www.hobbshousebakery.co.uk.