Emma de Giacometti

Emma de Giacometti took a four-week Professional Baking Skills course at The School of Artisan Food in 2017, led by master baker Wayne Caddy. She now runs her own micro-bakery near Cambridge, combining artisan baking with a career and family life with her husband and four children.

“I’m French but I moved to the UK 20 years ago. Though I had no formal baking experience I’ve always been interested in food and liked to cook. In France we tend to respect good, simple artisan food, so my interest has been there since childhood.

“After 10 years of making our own bread in a bread machine my husband and I decided to learn how to hand-make bread. We experimented at home, sometimes with success, but found moving from yeasted to sourdough bread a real challenge. The gamechanger was a one-day sourdough course I bought my husband for Father’s Day: He came back with a starter and a reliable method which he replicated at home to produce amazingly good and consistent bread. That was the turning point and the idea of selling homemade bread grew from there.”

“In 2015 I took my first three-day bread-making course at the School. When I was searching for the right course I was drawn to the School’s setting. It’s such a beautiful environment and despite the hard work, you always leave there feeling refreshed. It’s rare to find people who are interested in the same things as you, but at the School you get to spend time with like-minded people from very different backgrounds.

“I put the skills I learnt from baking tutor Emmanuel Hadjiandreou into practice at home, making bread and giving it away to people in our village. I knew I wanted to channel my energies into something creative and practical, alongside my part-time desk job, so I explored the idea of setting up a micro-bakery.”

In 2017 Emma returned to the School for an intensive four-week Professional Baking Skills course, establishing West Street Bakehouse in Comberton soon after. She bakes sourdough breads and seasonal treats to order every week. Emma made the conscious decision not to invest in equipment at the onset, concentrating on developing her recipes and building relationships with people in her village. She produces 20 to 25 items per week in three bakes, all by hand and baked in her AGA (for now).

“The quality of the teaching at the School is extremely high. Wayne Caddy taught us a huge amount in a short period of time. He’s passionate about baking and wants to see his students do well. You really appreciate the importance of everything you learn at the School when you start baking professionally. Bread-making is a skilled job and you can only really learn it through the master and apprentice relationship, watching how it’s done and then having plenty of opportunities to try it yourself until you get it right.”

“Producing good bread is important as it’s a staple in our diet and can be accessible and affordable for everyone. I feel real joy when I get great bread out of the oven and I want to share that joy with my friends and neighbours. I’m running a very small business, but I’ve had a clear vision and plan from the start to make sure it works in tandem with my part-time job and pays for itself. As well as creating quality produce, it’s also important to me to remain environmentally friendly. I only sell to people in the village and walk to make deliveries. Other customers pick up their loaves on the way to or from work.

“I wouldn’t be running a micro-bakery if it wasn’t for the School. The School is helping to keep our food culture and heritage alive and give people more choice about the food they eat and make, and I think that is essential.

Find out more about West Street Bakehouse.

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.