How Bakers & Co head baker achieved success in lockdown - as Wapping Wharf bakery opens

As renowned Gloucester Road bakery Bakers & Co open their second site at Wapping Wharf, head baker Brett St. Clair tells us all about what to expect

Given the standout success of their Gloucester Road site, it’s not surprising that the popular Bakers & Co are opening their new Wapping Wharf Bakery this week.

This follows a successful pivot made by the team throughout the pandemic, whereby in the initial lockdown they converted their empty cafe into a provisions store so that they could continue to serve the Bristol community.

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It was at this time that head baker Brett St. Clair started experimenting with their sourdough offerings.

Having started just over seven years ago, Bakers & Co has gone from only really dealing with making sourdough for retail, as well as to put on their brunches, to it being the star of the show.

Head Baker Brett St. Clair is looking forward to about being able to show off their creations and their ethos to the tourist audience

“I came in as head chef almost four years ago and, during lockdown, all our sites closed and we changed tact,” says Mr St. Clair. “The day we found out we had to close, I’d got all the bread made in the fridge and realised we needed to do something with it.

“That started us opening up the door everyday, turning ourselves into a provisions store and just selling out the door. We started doing the croissant, but we couldn’t get fresh yeast so we experimented with using purely sourdough for everything and that’s where we are today.”

The use of sourdough within all their bakes has really set Bakers & Co apart from the masses

Fast forward to today, and the use of sourdough within all their bakes has really set Bakers & Co apart from the masses. “We realised quickly that the flavour was superior, so why would we go back to using commercial yeast?” says Mr St. Clair.

“Hopefully we bring something new and something that people haven’t tried before.

“The way I like to think about the croissant especially is that in today’s world you can go into a Pret or somewhere and grab a  croissant and it’s a very take-for-granted thing. I want people to try the croissant and think it’s different and beyond something you’d usually grab in a rush to simply fill a hole.

“I want it to be more and, hopefully, our flavour and approach to it gives people that.”

The new Wapping Wharf site is the third Cargo unit for Season + Taste, the company behind Bakers & Co, and the already present Cantina and Gambas, so clearly it’s an area they know well and love to be a part of.

The new unit is the third on Wapping Wharf for Season + Taste, the company behind Bakers & Co

What is it about the area that they love so much? Mr St. Clair explains how it allows them to meet and serve tourists more and people from outside of the city, too.

“We’ve got Cantina and Gambas down there already and it’s always been somewhere that I’ve loved,” he explains. “Both Wapping Wharf and Gloucester Road are big foodie communities, so it aligns nicely in that way too.”

We talk about how much the team are looking forward to about being able to show off their creations and their ethos to the tourist audience. I wonder what else Mr St. Clair is most excited about with the Cargo opening.

“We thought it would be nice to be able to grow into something where we’ve got a second site,” he says.

“I think just bringing everything to a new audience is exciting. It’s been great with the community support we’ve had at Gloucester Road but I’m looking forward to bringing it to a new one, too.

“We want it to be the complete essence of what we do which is bread, pastries and coffee and we want to be providing the best of those things, so really honing it down.”

Brett wants it want it to be the complete essence of what they do which is bread, pastries and coffee

And what can people expect from the new site and the interiors? Mr St. Clair tells us that there is a little bit of a different vibe to the original cafe.

“It’s a shipping container at the end of the day,” he smiles. “We’ve got the counter at the front like we’ve got here to create that familiarity, but for the rest of it we’ve gone for a very informal and relaxed vibe, with some outdoor seating as well.”

He tells us how important that relaxed and informal element is to Bakers & Co. “We take what we do incredibly seriously but we don’t want to be pretentious about it and it’s got to be something for everybody,” he says. “After all, a croissant or a loaf of bread is for everybody - we just want to do it a bit differently.”