Gary McAllister - our master baker and head of The Bread Guy's Bakery
I started my apprenticeship at Kelly of Cults at the age of 17 where I trained for 6 years under some of the best bakers in the North East of Scotland, where the emphasis was always on high quality. I am pleased to say that some of whom now work with me at The Bread Guy. I learned a lot from my time with those bakers, creating a full range of artisan breads, pies, cakes and scones it was very hard work for a 17 year old working from 6 pm until 3am 6 days a week but this is definitely where my passion for my craft began. Kelly of Cults was a very respected family bakery lasting over 100 years of trading. After the closure of Kelly of Cults I moved on to work for a large company called MacPhie of Glenbervie a food ingredients manufacturer. I was employed as a QRD Baker (Quality, Research & Development) this was a very different type of baking, it was more technical, looking at the reaction that different ingredients have on the baked product. A big part of this was looking at baking around the world how we baked differently to bakers in other countries learning their techniques was fascinating. We looked at market trends and tried to gauge what the next trend might be and develop our products around this. My mentor at MacPhie of Glenbervie, Alan Leith was also a great lover of bread making and helped me to rase the bar on breads to infuse new techniques with old.
I would say this is how the idea of The Bread Guy was actually started, he got me thinking about how high quality hand produced bread had disappeared from our communities and had been replaced with mass produced “modern bread” the skill had been removed and chemical additives substituted to replace the traditional techniques.
The Bread Guy was set up with the aim to bring traditional artisan bread back to the community and offer local restaurants the chance to put it back on the menu whilst keeping the cost low to compete directly with supermarkets.
With the help from my sister Donna and my brother Chris, my business partners, we launched The Bread Guy in May 2019 in Inverurie. We rented a small industrial unit in Blackhall Industrial estate we needed to bring in some baking equipment but with very little start up cash and no loan from the bank just the cash we had personally saved we bought a 20 year old second hand oven an antique of the baking ages but I still tell the bakers now it was the best oven we ever had. we bought a small bread mixer stainless steel table and went to the local Morrisons for the rolling pin and scales and started baking.
Our first wholesale customer was Andy Stephen, Head chef at the Number 10 Bar and Restaurant I had worked with Andy before whilst at another local Aberdeen bakery creating a product to his specification this was the level of service he had been looking for, to have bread to suit his needs. I believe this level of service has helped to make The Bread Guy the go to bakery for chefs as before they had no input into the bakery products they were using. We attended local farmers markets to launch our products to the public, it was incredibly rewarding to hear the feedback on our breads first hand and made the long hours of baking much more easier.
Now in our 3rd year of business moving from the small site in Inverurie to a much larger site in Torry the former premises of Aitkens bakery. We opened our first store in Torry in June 2020, in the heart of the local community. Being part of the Torry community has been a huge deal to me I spent a lot of my young age living in Torry and also starting my own family here we have tried to give back as much as possible from our community fund that we donate to local charities and organisations to starting our annual trick or treating event for the kids.
Our second shop on Great Northern Road opened in June 2021. The shop had been empty for a long time before this. I had driven past the derelict shop so many times as its bright green signage always caught my attention and probably that of everyone else who ever drove down that road. I always found this disappointing, that the shop directly opposite the Kittybrewster primary school had its shutters down, and a massive for lease sign looming over the playground, it is a very unambitious sight for the kids to see. As a father of 3 I want my kids to be brought up around local stores where many of us got our first jobs like it was when I grew up. We had so many local bakers, butchers, fishmongers and local grocers in the neighbourhood but now every second shop in Aberdeen is empty , a drive down Union Street is just a wave of for lease signs not what you would expect to find in what is or was the oil capital of Europe. Of course, the pandemic also had an effect on all business, including our own, but it’s definitely not the root problem of our empty communities.
At The Bread Guy, we want to bring bakeries back in to local communities
Its great to see the business growing as it has, now employing 18 members of staff, our latest recruitment was that of Andrew Beattie as our Night Head Baker. Andrew was previously of Thains Bakery and brings with him over 30 years of experience, starting as an apprentice at Strathdee Bakery and working his way up the ranks through local bakeries, Andrew shares the same values as we do, with a passion for high quality produce. Our team are all really close and always joke that we are a work family. We all work to achieve the same goal its great to have some of the old team from Kelly of Cults with us as we have worked together for a long time, it was their quality and their passion for the industry that brought them here to The Bread Guy, I think that really separates us from the competition. We have come along way from the days of the Morrisons rolling pin, the guys still like to joke about this, we have made so many accomplishments since then like being finalists in the Scottish Wholesale Bakery of the year in our first year of trading. This is something that has never been done in all the years that the bakers association have been hosting the awards, to our first and second store opening. Seeing the feedback we have been receiving means we have achieved what we set up to do.
All our products are to the highest standard and made to the best of my teams ability. Our product range is massive we have old time favourites such as custard slice to modern reworks our snickers slice we bring new products out on a daily basis. We source local as much as we possibly can all our meat in our pies comes from local butcher McWilliams all our dairy comes from Grahams Family Dairy even some our flour is grown in Inverurie by Westfield Farms. Our aim is to provide high quality, low costs, local produce. Our store keepers are the most friendly bunch of quines anyone can pop in for a chat they are all very passionate about what we do and are much loved by all our regulars.
We have some big plans up our sleeve which we will be revealing soon , so watch this space!
We believe that our passion for baking really shows in our products and this has led to us working with some of Aberdeen’s top restaurants, cafes and speciality food stores and that passion has led us to being shortlisted as a finalist at the Scottish Baker of the Year Awards 2019 capping off a phenomenal first year.