The Artisan Bakery is planning to share some of its famous bread and pastry recipes in the launch of their own food education centre, the Artisan Bakery Workshop, set to open Sept. 1.
From sessions for children to baking for young families, Theo and Gerda Korthof said they will have it all.
“We will have sessions for baking sour dough, decorating cakes and making pastries and pretzels,” said Gerda, explaining how lessons will vary from two hours to two days, depending on the recipes.
For Theo, the idea to add an educational aspect to the bakery is rooted in a larger issue.
“The loss of the entire food industry has been very neglected. Have a feast and you can get it cheap, but you don’t want to know what’s in it,” he said.
With many bakers reverting to pre-mixes to save time and adding chemicals to make bread last longer, Theo said the trade of baking is being lost.
“I want to teach because I want people to understand what good food really is. We need to have something to let people know what bread is all about.”
The Korthofs moved from Amsterdam seven years ago and first sold bread at the Western Fair Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market. After growing a loyal cliental, they moved to their present location at 864 Dundas St. in 2012.
“When we started here, they thought we were crazy, and they were right,” Theo said. “They thought we wouldn’t make it and that’s where they were wrong.”
What makes their bakery successful, Gerda explained, is the quality of staff, connection with the community and being sincerely interested in customers’ lives.
The Korthofs said they will also be offering the workshop space for other chefs from across the city to lead demos and sessions, emphasizing the importance of supporting other local businesses. Theo explained how The Artisan Bakery doesn’t work alone.
The Bakery gets strawberries from Heeman’s, honey from Strathroy, All About Cheese products from down the street and vegetables from their community garden out back.
Another growing businesses they work closely with is Locomotive Espresso, a -European-style café that opened in February. Sarah Cox, the manager of the café, explained how she picks up specialty breads from the Artisan Bakery every few days for their toast bar.
In exchange, Locomotive Espresso sells the bakery butters, which they use to make dessert bars sold at both businesses. Cox said this collaboration is an example of the interconnectedness of small food businesses in London.
“We’re all a neat community. It’s nice to support local when everyone’s just trying to make London a bit better, have a business that’s successful and be a nice little neighbourhood place,” she said.
The Korthofs emphasized how this sense of community not only provides comfort and familiarity with locals, it also benefits real estate sales and attracts newcomers.
“Small businesses are much better for the economy,” Theo said. “They grow communities and that’s the start of growing everything else.”
Theo and Gerda agreed that succeeding from scratch as a local business relies on having a strong network and knowing what you do. With local support and broad experience in the food industry, Theo said he is looking forward to spreading his knowledge and passion with others.
“It’s all about food,” he said. “It’s all about what we do three times a day, we eat. So why not do it and make it right?”
For more information, call The Artisan Bakery at 519-204-9144.