Ian Waterland, 51, completed his Advanced Diploma in Artisan Baking at the School of Artisan Food in 2014. He now runs his own micro-bakery Knead Good Bread in Leicestershire and combines a love of real bread with his experiences as a mental health nurse by teaching adults with learning difficulties how to bake.
Ian’s journey from nursing to artisan baking began by chance:
“I heard about the School on the radio and booked my wife onto a one-day patisserie course as a present. She loved it. We’d been talking about me doing something different with my life, so when she heard about the baking diploma she suggested I go for it. My wife has been so supportive; I couldn’t have done any of this without her.
“I knew I had to do it as soon as I got to the open day. I loved the place and the people. It’s such a great environment to learn in.
“At first it was daunting. I packed my job in, had no income and no grand plan. I just knew I wanted to make a change and the School seemed like the right place for me. It was an opportunity to reboot myself.
“I loved every minute of the course, but it’s the hardest year I’ve ever had. Juggling studying, childcare, commuting and then baking on my feet every day was exhausting. The diploma is great because it gives you the scientific underpinning theory of baking, combined with lots of hands-on practice. You need both to bake good bread. By adding the business side, it covers all bases.”
“As the course progressed I decided to set up a micro-bakery. I’d been swapping bread for childcare from family and friends and quickly saw there was a market locally for what I was making. Before I graduated I wrote a business plan and submitted a proposal to the School to set up a pop-up bakery, selling some of the bread we produced. This really helped me in the early stages, as it helped me find potential customers and research the market.’
Within three months of graduating from the School, Knead Good Bread was up and running:
“I started selling bread one day a week in our village. Local demand grew and I added another day and began selling wholesale to other local businesses. Three years on, I’m focused on the teaching side of the business. One day a week I still sell my bread; to be honest it sells itself now. There’s lots of interest in real bread in my community, far more than when I started out. The rest of the time I teach adults with learning difficulties and mental health issues how to bake and make real bread as well as teaching Mindful Bread and Therapeutic Baking at the School. My dream was always to bring these two strands of my life together. It feels like this has squared the circle.”
“None of this would be happening without the School. Our tutors gave me the knowledge and skills I needed not only to make bread, but also to set up a business, sell my produce and become a teacher. This course can lead to such a wide variety of opportunities.
"I still very much feel part of the School community. It's played such a big part in getting me to where I am now, and I teach there as well now. I'd say to anyone considering the Diploma in Baking - it's really hard work and a full-on year, but it will give you everything you need to launch yourself into the world of baking."
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.