Glenn Stephens turned up at The School of Artisan Food in December 2012, a keen amateur but looking for a course to give him a pathway to becoming a professional baker.
Having spent 25 years in the City, Glenn had a great advantage when setting up a food business. For a good part of that time he spent a couple of days a week in the best restaurants that London and the South East had to offer and developed his sense of what he considered to be outstanding food. Glenn has cooked since the age of 14, lived abroad as his father was in the Army and had many holidays throughout mainland Europe and the US, always searching out the local markets and artisan produce. His main hobby was always to try and recreate the foods, dishes and techniques he had come across and went on to build up a huge library of high quality cookery and bakery books from chefs and bakers across the globe, which he studied and became quite accomplished at many forms of cookery.
When he considered a move into the food industry, Glenn decided on a bakery because it was the most accessible way for consumers to get high quality handmade food and because many local bakeries had been wiped out by industrial bread baking.
He turned up at The School of Artisan Food in December 2012, a keen amateur but looking for a course to give him a pathway to becoming a professional baker. Glenn spent only 3 days at the school but the course was perfect, as he worked within a small bakery environment and spent his time learning old fashioned techniques, shaping by hand, always to create the very highest quality breads. The tutor, Wayne Caddy, then helped Glenn to gain work experience by putting him in touch with a great local bakery, Holtwhites in Enfield. He spent 3 months with Richard and Kate who were very kind to him and let Glenn hone his handshaping skills and understand all their processes.
He then set up a small bakery in his garage and launched Rex Bakery in June 2012 at their local Village Day. Glenn baked loads of breads picked up on his bread journey and sold out despite a ‘monsoon’. That was the beginning of their weekly Saturday morning ‘pop up’, where his wife Caroline, would man a table or sell from the boot of her car to the kids and parents of the local football club, in all weathers. It went so well they bought a shop in the high street in December 2013 and were ready to start as a full-time onsite bakery in April 2014. Glenn now had a baking team of three and they set to work 5 days a week.
Come September, after only 6 months of full-time baking, Glenn entered into the World Bread Awards and was delighted when they won 7 medals, plus were runner up in one of the categories. It meant the professional baking establishment recognised Rex Bakery were making very high quality breads, as they were one the most decorated bakeries in the entire competition. Glenn says "I felt we had finally arrived".
They now bake seven days a week and have a great local following. As they have grown quite rapidly it is important to Glenn that standards are maintained which are very high quality long fermentation breads and using only organic flour. Their philosophy can be best summed up by their Malt Loaf.
This most British of breads, which provides a historical link between the Baker & Brewer, is firmly entwined in his memory of his Grandparents - Rex and Jean. As a little boy, Glenn would always receive a slice smothered in butter when he visited their home. It was therefore important to Glenn to elevate this bread to a healthy Organic Artisan Loaf worthy of their memory, and also to create new food memories for his customers. Three months and 15 versions later, they found the final version and now have that British classic for sale in the Bakery. Rex Bakery is full of products which have a similar story, starting out as someone’s food memory is then recreated and elevated to its highest form.