Wild Wheat started out in 1999 wholesaling bread from a small factory in East Tamaki. A loyal following was slowly built over the next 2-3 years as more of Auckland's leading restaurants and cafès became aware of a new bakery in the market. We specialised in making sourdoughs based on long slow fermentation made from an apple-based sourdough starter, that in 1999 was already 3 years old. These breads have a unique flavour and texture and with no additives or preservatives, have great health benefits too.
Wild Wheat won an award for the "Best Hot Cross" in the North Island in 2004. This created a wave of publicity that spurred on the company to open its first retail store in Mt Eden in mid 2004, allowing Aucklanders to discover the restaurateurs’ best kept secret. The shop was an instant success and I am eternally grateful to the support shown us by the people of Mt Eden.
Our breads are based on very simple ingredients: flour, water and salt. But with simple procedures there is nowhere to hide if you get it wrong; no way to take shortcuts. Our sourdough loaves take over 48 hours to create from start to finish. This process will never be compromised; nor will our strict rule: no additives or preservatives. Naturally produced bread, naturally good for you.
I was lucky to have known from a very early age that I love to cook and therefore I wanted to be a chef when I left school. My mother is a great cook and was very encouraging, allowing me to cook all sorts of recipes and make a mess of her kitchen.
I left school at 16 and started working at a local restaurant in Howick. After gaining my cooking qualifications at AUT, I travelled to London.
After a gap year or two travelling, I got a job working at Le Pont de la Tour, a Sir Terence Conran restaurant next to Tower Bridge. I worked there for 4 years and was fortunate to be offered a rare opportunity to work in their highly regarded bakery. I was immediately hooked on making bread and what was meant to be a quick 6 month stint become a life passion.
I love bread - dealing with a living thing. I believe in simplicity with food: be honest and cook with integrity. Our plain white sourdough is still my favourite bread. I am largely self-taught and try to soak up any and all information I can about my craft, always striving to improve. I never want to stop learning or stop creating.
Owning Wild Wheat is not about making money, it's about creating an environment where I can make the best bread possible. I still enjoy working hard in the kitchen, even as I get older, and will always ensure my week is spent more on the kitchen floor ensuring all my staff understand and follow my passion than in the office shuffling papers.
Wild Wheat has been voted Best Bread by Metro Magazine every year since 2004.
In 2011, Metro Magazine upsized this accolade to "Best Bakery".
Wild Wheat Bakery has won Best Hot Cross Buns in the North Island in 2004, 2005 and 2010. View the 2010 article on the Stuff.co.nz website here.
2012 NZ Food Awards Winner - Winner of the Primary Industries Cereals and Breads Award - Wild Wheat's Kumara Sourdough