County Down baker is crowned bread hero of Northern Ireland

Mark Douglas from Dromore, County Down has been crowned Northern Ireland’s Bread Hero in the Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Food.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:00 pm
Mark Douglas, Krazi Baker, Dromore, Country Down, has been crowned Northern Ireland’s Bread Hero by the Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Food. Pictures: Henry Kenyon

Mark launched Krazi Baker eight years ago after being inspired by food markets in continental Europe. He came to the realisation that no one was selling bread baked on-site.

“You’d see every product under the sun, but never bread baked on-site. I was wondering how to do this and when I went back to work, the answer was staring me in the face - hotplates and soda bread,” says Mark.

Mark bakes on hotplates on site at markets, such as Newtownards, Comber and Carrickfergus and agri-food shows, such as The Balmoral Show, Castlewellan Show and The Antrim Garden Show. Customers wolf down his bakes, which include iconic items such as soda farls and potato bread, as fast as he can make them.

Mark Douglas, Krazi Baker, Dromore, Country Down, has been crowned Northern Ireland’s Bread Hero by the Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Food. Pictures: Henry Kenyon

His ethos is to bake bread by hand with no additives, preservatives or bread improvers... just natural bread. 

Unfortunately Mark’s business, which also includes teaching at his ‘Krazi Soda School’, was hit hard when the restrictions of Covid halted markets, shows and baking classes.

Not to be defeated, Mark established a home delivery service, with deliveries being made across County Down in a pink Fiat 500. 

In normal times, the Tiptree World Bread Awards celebrate the bread; loaves from around the country would be delivered for assessment by a panel of esteemed judges. Building on the great success of last year, the Awards once again celebrated the UK’s Bread Heroes - the people behind the loaves: from farmers and millers, to bakers and educators.

Mark Douglas, Krazi Baker, Dromore, Country Down, has been crowned Northern Ireland’s Bread Hero by the Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Food. Pictures: Henry Kenyon

Hundreds of nominations were sent in from across the UK.

“All the nominees in this year’s Awards truly deserve recognition for their generous, considerate and often altruistic initiatives to help others,” said Stephen Hallam, chairman of the judges.

Thirteen regional winners were selected by the judging panel. In addition to the regional winners, there were a selection of special awards: Brook Food Dream Team Award, KitchenAid Home Baker Hero, Shipton Mill Real Bread Hero, Tiptree Outstanding Achievement Award, Wright’s Flour Award for Innovation, Zeelandia Award for Sustainability.

One of the judges, Britt Box, She Who Bakes, said: “It has been another strange year and it is so lovely to read stories of the bread heroes who have carried on, diversified, given back and risen to the challenge (pun intended!). They are all an absolute credit to their communities.”

An exhibition of portraits by photographer Henry Kenyon of the Bread Heroes will be touring the UK.

Overall Winner / Yorkshire and Humber

John Foster, Fosters Bakery

John Foster, managing director of Fosters Bakery in Mapplewell near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was selected as our overall winner 2021.

The speed and scale of the vaccine roll out meant there were thousands of doses needed at every GP practice in Barnsley. John and his team stepped forward to assist: providing numerous vehicles and personnel to help deliver the vaccine doses to the Practices. For a few days every week, over a period of six weeks, up to five Fosters vehicles and drivers were distributing vaccines all over the borough.

North West

Irina Ruseva, Flour & Soul Bakery

Irina, who went into lockdown on maternity leave from her project manager role, set up her own micro bakery during the pandemic.

Always a keen baker, after learning as a child from her gransadfather in Bulgaria, Irina took lockdown as an opportunity to get back into sourdough. After making a few surplus loaves, Irina posted them on Facebook to see if anybody wanted them. They sold within minutes and requests poured in. In order to keep up with demand Irina baked with her new baby strapped to her back and her three year old playing with flour.

North East

Dan Booth, Bakerman

Following redundancy, Dan, a passionate advocate for Real Bread, successfully crowdfunded to set up a not-for-profit, community bakery called Bakerman.

“His dedication, and amazing work ethic is outstanding, and all achieved whilst in the midst of a global pandemic,” said Chris, one of Dan’s nominators.

Dan now employs a number of staff and apprentice bakers.

East Midlands

Craig Poynter, The Bakehouse, Nottingham

When Covid struck, Michelin-trained chef Craig was forced to think quickly about how he could keep the bakery going while still serving the local community. In the early days of the pandemic, when they were unable to bake, Craig and his team created over 3,000 homemade bread kits and sold them from the shop window.

Through online tutorials, local children were encouraged to bake their own bread at home, giving parents a much needed activity to do with their children.

West Midlands

Ruth Redgate, Hunnypot Cottage Bakery

Ruth converted an old rundown shed into her own miniature bakery, Hunnypot Cottage Bakery.

“It is a one-woman artisan bakery … but with the energy and passion of a whole team,” says Gayle Edwards, one of Ruth’s nominators.

Ruth is very conscious of the environmental impact of the bakery. In the conversion, she used donated worktop and units, repurposed shelves and wall and ceiling boards that would have otherwise gone to landfill. In the day-to-day running of the bakery, she uses compostable packaging, forest-friendly cardboard, and has swapped paper leaflets for QR codes.

East of England

Steven Winter, Bread Source

During lockdown, Steven launched The Bread Source National Loaf Scheme, which helps those most in need access fresh bread by providing high quality, wholemeal artisan loaves for just £1.

In addition, he has reduced the bakery’s wastage to nearly zero. He has formed links with local farmers to provide free food for their livestock and invested in new, more environmentally friendly technology, reducing the amount of energy the bakery uses. Steven has done all this whilst maintaining employment of his 60 staff and training up four young people who were previously receiving Universal Credit to become bakers.

Scotland

Sabine Klaus-Carter, Calvin Free From Foods

The judges were inspired by Sabine’s ability to turn a challenging personal experience into a business that helps many people in situations similar to her own.

Sabine’s son has multiple severe food allergies. When she found out that other people were struggling to find safe free-from bread too, Sabine decided to set up Calvin’s Free From Foods so that everyone could experience the joy of having bread, no matter what one’s dietary restrictions are. Since its launch in July 2020, Calvin’s Free From Foods has been donating to food banks.

Read all their Bread Hero stories in more detail at: https://www.worldbreadawards.com/bread-hero-winners-2021/