Clare Barton

The Bakehouse at 124, an artisan bakery, coffee house and tea room in Tonbridge, is the brainchild of Clare Barton. Clare launched her artisan baking career in 2014 after completing the School of Artisan Food’s Advanced Diploma in Artisan Baking.

“I’ve always loved baking, so when I was made redundant from my PA job in the city I decided to re-train at the School and try something I really wanted to do. On my first day I felt like I was finally in a place where I felt comfortable. I was working alongside likeminded people who all loved good food and wanted to talk about it. It felt like home.”

“I already had a passion for baking, but the course gave me the knowledge, confidence and technical understanding I needed to open the Bakehouse. The science of baking is just as important as the practical skills and the business side when you run a bakery; you need to understand why things go wrong and how to correct them to be successful.

“Both Wane Caddy and Mickael Jahan are masters of their trade. Wayne has a long history of professional experience to share and Mickael is so passionate about viennoiserie and has such imagination, it really inspired us. The pleasure they both take in what they do makes them excellent teachers.”

“Their support didn’t end with the course either. I make lots of things with brioche, inspired by Mickael, and he’s been down here and helped me tweak my ideas to get them just right. Yvonne advised on my business plan and I’ve talked through my produce with Wayne. I have a huge affection for the School and the staff, it’s a hidden gem that I wish more people knew about.”

A year after leaving the School Clare opened The Bakehouse at 124; an artisan business with an ethos inspired by its owner’s experiences with mass produced food:

“I have lots of food allergies which can make going out to eat a minefield. Knowing exactly where my food comes from, the ingredients used and how it’s made is so important. So, a vital selling point of my business is that we are 100 per cent transparent about the food we serve. Everything is fresh and made using traditional methods. We created an open-plan design with the bakehouse opening out into the shop and café, so our customers can watch the whole baking process.

“Running a bakery is not for the fainthearted. It’s always busy and I sometimes find myself working silly hours. It’s been a steep learning curve for me, but the feedback from our customers has made it all worthwhile. I love being able to offer an alternative to the bread you get in a supermarket and show our customers what delicious buns and cakes are like. We’ve had a lot of support locally. From our regulars to tourists in the summer they all appreciate the way we do things and that everything we sell is homemade and good quality. And, because our customers love our bread so much, we’re running regular Introduction to Sourdough classes, so I’ve made the move from student to teacher!”

Find out more about The Bakehouse at 124.

Inspired to set up your own artisan food business? Take a look at our range of food start-up business courses designed to take your business from wishful thinking to commercial reality.