Baking in the Cronx.
In a quiet suburban road in a leafy part of Croydon there is a small business called The Chatsworth Bakehouse, wonderfully created in a national lockdown and under the darkness of a pandemic. This small start-up has big plans for a sandwich and baking revolution and is rising to the occasion (excuse the pun). Chatsworth have used the sadness and struggles of this uncertain time to grow and expand their business, reaching out to our bellies via our smartphones and social media.
Their mission is simple – to let the food do the talking.
‘If you bake it, they will come’ and come they do in their droves.
My introduction to the Chatsworth Bakehouse was by accident. Nic had been scouring the net looking for something to eat other than Deliveroo. Planning three meals a day whilst in a lockdown gets a bit tricky to navigate and rather repetitive: breakfast, lunch, dinner, repeat. Even the most ardent of home cooks can run out of ideas after months of the same thing.
She told me she’d found a local couple who made killer sandwiches and asked if I fancied one. After a quick check on their drool-inducing photos on their insta feed I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. I noticed that as if their delicious food wasn’t enough to entice us they also very kindly give a percentage of their takings to local charities and feed families in need. Winner!
We put our order in, were given our personal delivery window for later that week and that was it.
Delivered with a smile is an understatement. On time and with the care and attention of a midwife handing over a new-born Sian handed me the brown paper bag containing what I soon announced to be one of the best focaccia sandwiches I’d ever eaten in my life. She had a grin from ear to ear as if she knew what she was delivering would rock my food world. (She wasn’t wrong).
After the first bite I knew I was in trouble. Nothing that tastes this good can be the work of a novice. I knew straight away that this was the work of a baking alchemist, a tradesman so committed to creating an edible masterpiece that consumers like me simply didn’t stand a chance. It was delicious, each mouthful as good as the last. No words were exchanged between Nic and I until our plates were cleared.
“Now THAT was pretty magnificent” was all I could muster. And then I sat in blissful silence.
Delving a bit deeper you learn that these guys are genuinely really good people. Tom a Chef and Sian a former Producer are the Chatsworth Bakehouse. It is their baby, and it is growing up fast. Not only do they make the most delicious sandwiches, but they bake as well. Fantastic loaves of bread and a cake selection to satisfy every pallet, they’ve got it covered. What started off feeding neighbours and local food banks has grown into a social media phenomenon and a much-needed positive injection into the local community. You have to be on your metal to secure an order. They go live on Instagram on a Monday with their sarnie of the week and other delicious offerings. You have to show the same conviction and speed as if you are entering a radio phone-in competition to place your order. The window of opportunity is open on time, but it shuts and when it does it is over. If you snooze you lose and the disappointment of not being quick enough to order is palpable. But if you manage to be one of the lucky people who ‘get there first’ you are guaranteed to be in for a treat. It’s all good, I mean it really IS all good.
To find that entrepreneurial spirit during such a difficult time is admirable - their work ethic is enviable and their focus on the greater good is simply a breath of fresh air.
There has been so much sadness due to the pandemic but there are success stories and the Chatsworth Bakehouse is definitely one of them. I feel so privileged to have been around at the beginning (ish) of their journey and I’m genuinely excited for them. If you live in the Cronx I dare you to check them out – you can thank me later.