Daily bread has fast become an Auckland institution since opening its first outpost in 2018, with people travelling near and far to get their hands on a loaf of sourdough, or a hot cross bun come easter. Maddie Irvine caught up with co-owner Josh Helm and head baker Patrick Welzenbach of the esteemed bakery to find out more on their rise to success, opening in Newmarket and just how they manage to bake some of the best bread money can buy.
NEWMARKET. Could you tell us a little bit about how Daily Bread was established?
JOSH. At the time, Tom and I were running Orphans Kitchen in Ponsonby. Tom was perfecting his own sourdough and picking Pat’s (our head baker) brain who had freshly arrived from Germany. They often joked about starting up their own bakery together. Around the same time, Tom and I were on the lookout for a new hospitality venture that was scalable. A year later (in 2017), Tom called Pat to pitch the idea. Two months later, we found the perfect site in Point Chevalier and it was all go.
N. Working as a trio must lend to creative collaboration, ideas and perhaps challenges at times. How do you manage this relationship and what roles have each of you taken on as the business has developed?
J. Our business partnership is just like a polygamous marriage! We each have a particular skillset that we bring to the table so we aren’t stepping on each other’s toes all the time. Our perspectives also help when bouncing ideas around. Daily Bread couldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the unique collaboration between the three of us. 2020 was a year unlike any other. We were already under the pump with the opening of four Daily Bread sites (including a pastry production hub in Belmont). Throw into the mix a global pandemic and looking after young kids through multiple lockdowns, it was one hell of a year for us all. Consequently, some things have had to give as Tom focused on the opening and running of Kingi in Britomart. Nowadays, Pat and I run the day-to-day operations at Daily Bread. Pat manages the baking side and I’m focused on the business side of things. Tom and I still own Orphans Kitchen, now in its eighth year. We still all love to catch up for fierce debate on what our next move will be.
N. Your bakery focuses on time-honouring techniques using simple ingredients which are nutritious and sourced sustainably and locally. How and why have you chosen to go down this path?
PATRICK. Our slow-fermented bread honours the traditional art of baking. The long fermentation brings more flavour and aroma, and makes it far easier to digest, promoting good gut health. We’re big on supporting local farmers. There is great flavour in New Zealand’s grain and produce which tells the story of our land. It keeps money invested in our community and results in a better carbon footprint too.
N. Pat, your sourdough starter has been in the family for over 600 years, this starter being the genesis for all of the bread baked at Daily Bread. Could you explain how this has been nurtured for so long, and how you adapt it to fit the variety of loaves you bake every day?
P. My family has carefully maintained our starter over many generations. They manned the village oven back in my hometown in Germany, since the 1400s, and still do today. The starter has matured over this time, and it’s the signature flavour in all of our bread. New Zealand’s grains have taken to it very well and it loves the high humidity and temperature of Auckland.
N. What are your tips for baking the perfect loaf of bread?
P. 1. Treat your starters like your family. You cannot neglect them or leave them alone for too long, because they can be unpredictable. They are all different with their own characteristics and quirky traits.
2. Plan your bake. Sourdough is about timing and temperature: it’s uncompromising on when it needs attending to.
3. Practise. Practise. Practise. Bake lots and give your loaves away… neighbours, friends, random strangers walking past your house… keep baking and make more than you need to eat to start with. The more you bake the better you will become!
N. Your Newmarket bakery and deli inside Newmarket’s Città design store is the perfect fit, how did you decide on this space?
J. I had always wanted to open a café around Newmarket as I was brought up in this hood. I used to be taken to Zarbo (a few doors down from Città) in the late 90s and thought it was pretty flash at the time. So, it was quite serendipitous when one of our good customers (who owns Città) shoulder tapped us to see if we were keen to take over the existing café in their shop. The timing worked out well as we didn’t have any capital to setup another café, but we had the production capacity to make more pastries and bread. Città share many of our philosophies around craft and authenticity and have been a great support to us.
N. Daily Bread’s online order and delivery service launched in the summer of 2019, well before the harsh effects of lockdown began to take their toll on hospitality. How have you found the past year going in and out of lockdowns, and has there been a shift in the way your customers choose to shop?
J. I’m glad we had some resemblance of a digital presence before the pandemic hit, but the lockdown really forced us to improve the back end of the site. During each lockdown, the website proved to be our lifesaver and allowed us to give many of our staff jobs like packing, delivering and processing orders. Coming out of lockdown, we saw that our community preferred the tangible experience of being in our stores. However, our website continues to mobilise new areas of the business – we’re now offering nationwide delivery and it’s a great tool for seasonal pre-orders. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve our digital presence, especially as we focus on promoting the Daily Bread brand at a national level.
N. Not only do you bake delicious breads and pastries, you also produce a range of pickled, cured, smoked and preserved foods in-house. How do these items fit in with your natural and sustainable ethos?
J. Anything that complements our daily offering or utilises our waste, we love to produce in-house where possible (such as honey, pickled eggs and even our own Marmite). Our new food director Tim Read, was a 2015 NZ MasterChef winner and
is always keen to get his hands dirty and drive our offering.
N. When introducing new items to your deli menu or baked goods, who and what steps are involved in this process?
P. The first step is turning an idea into more of a concept, mapping out what we’d like to achieve. It could be focused around a unique ingredient, a Kiwi classic or filling a gap in our offering. We then trial and deliberate on countless different tests and once we all agree, we add it into the line-up.
N. The madness of Easter has now been and gone, in which you introduced a new variation of your famous hot cross buns. What makes Daily Bread’s buns different to store bought? And how do you manage to keep up with the increase in demand over this period?
P. Our hot cross buns are 100% natural leavened with sourdough, with no preservatives or artificial additives. They are super tasty because of the quality ingredients and the fact that they are baked fresh every morning. During our high season it’s very hard to keep up with the demand and the entire Daily Bread team are working to the limit. It’s a stressful but incredibly exciting time too.
N. Newmarket is home to just one of six Daily Bread bakeries around Auckland. How do you manage to keep up with what is happening at each one?
J. It’s a constant juggle; We now have over 100 employees and two production sites which keeps us on our toes. Luckily with our size, we’ve been able to employ an operations manager which has been extremely helpful. To keep up to play with all the stores, I have software where I can track in real time sales/staff cost per site, I also remote work at some of the sites too. We have front of house management meetings once a month and production meetings every fortnight too.
N. How do you dispose of your leftover bakery goods at the end of each day?
J. We have a different formula to other bakeries where we try to run out of most of our product by the end of the day. The onus is on each store manager to adjust their requisition sheet depending on the demand. Any leftovers after this are collected by several charities including the likes of Everybody Eats.
N. Daily Bread has gained somewhat of a cult following – what do you think it is about it that people go crazy for?
J. When we set out to open a bakery, we wanted to tell the story of New Zealand ingredients and make exceptional baking easily accessible. We’ve become part of the community and it’s amazing how Daily Bread has now become part of people’s lifestyles. For us, it’s all about the values and the vibe!
N. What are 5 things everyone should have in their pantry?
J. Bread, butter, salt, vinegar/s and wine.
N. What is next for Daily Bread?
J. We’ve been on a massive growth phase, so we’re looking forward to dropping down a few gears to focus on finishing our sites, improving our offer and driving wholesale. We believe that ‘better never stops’, especially in our continued pursuit for perfecting our product range.
8/10 Morrow Street | dailybread.co.nz