Mark Douglas from Dromore, County Down has been crowned Northern Ireland’s Bread Hero in the Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Food.
Mark launched Krazi Baker 8 years ago after being inspired by food markets in continental Europe. He came to the realisation that no one was selling bread baked on-site. “You’d see every product under the sun, but never bread baked on-site. I was wondering how to do this and when I went back to work, the answer was staring me in the face – hotplates and soda bread.” says Mark.
Mark bakes on hotplates on site at markets, such as Newtownards, Comber and Carrickfergus and agri-food shows, such as The Balmoral Show, Castlewellan Show and The Antrim Garden Show. Customers wolf down his bakes, which include iconic items such as soda farls and potato bread, as fast as he can make them. His ethos is to bake bread by hand with no additives, preservatives or bread improvers… just natural bread.
Unfortunately, Mark’s business, which also includes teaching at his ‘Krazi Soda School’, was hit hard when the restrictions of Covid halted markets, shows and baking classes. Not to be defeated, Mark established a home delivery service, with deliveries being made across Country Down in a pink Fiat 500.
In normal times, the Tiptree World Bread Awards celebrate the bread; loaves from around the country would be delivered for assessment by a panel of esteemed judges. Building on the great success of last year, the Awards once again celebrated the UK’s Bread Heroes – the people behind the loaves: from farmers and millers, to bakers and educators.
Hundreds of nominations were sent in from across the UK. ‘All the nominees in this year’s Awards truly deserve recognition for their generous, considerate and often altruistic initiatives to help others.’ said Stephen Hallam, Chairman of the Judges.
Thirteen regional winners were selected by the judging panel. In addition to the regional winners, there were a selection of special awards: Brook Food Dream Team Award, KitchenAid Home Baker Hero, Shipton Mill Real Bread Hero, Tiptree Outstanding Achievement Award, Wright’s Flour Award for Innovation, Zeelandia Award for Sustainability.
One of the judges, Britt Box, She Who Bakes, said: “It has been another strange year and it is so lovely to read stories of the bread heroes who have carried on, diversified, given back and risen to the challenge (pun intended!). They are all an absolute credit to their communities.”
An exhibition of portraits by photographer Henry Kenyon of the Bread Heroes will be touring the UK.