Artisanal bakers: Owners Josh Chapman and Tim Matthews at the Armstrong Street 1816 Bakehouse. Photo: RUBY STALEY

Well bread passion for loaf growth

October 30, 2020 BY

AFTER wood firing pizzas at The Forge for years, baker Josh Chapman decided to partner with owners Tim and Chris Matthews on a new, carb heavy venture.

Bringing his extensive baking experience to the table, Chapman said after mastering the pizza side of things, it seemed natural for them to expand the business together.

“When the boys were opening Alfredton, with my baking background, it made sense for me to work there and do the pizza dough,” he said.

“For a long time, my wife and I would drive to Daylesford and Trentham to buy bread and as a baker, I thought that wasn’t right and I wondered why there wasn’t a decent artisan bakery right here.”

Having created a strong brand with The Forge, Mr Matthews said they wanted to utilise Chapman’s specialty and hone in on a gap in the Ballarat market for high quality bread.

“We were looking at business expansion and then the shop next door to the Armstrong Street Forge became open and we thought, let’s do something,” he said.

“We spoke to Josh, we were still in contact, and decided to make it work.

“It was a bit of a collaboration between Chris, myself, who are part owners, and then majority is Josh and Sally and we’ve managed to find a bit of a niche for good quality bread and bakery goods.”

Since its inception, a real focus on developing and retailing the best product possible has been at the heart of the 1816 business.

Whether it’s the various sourdough loaves cooked daily or a new pastry that’s being trialled, Mr Matthews said the team strive to produce a 10-out-of-10 product every time.

“Although it’s not always possible, we aim to get that A plus grade on all the individual products right through from the bread to all the pastries,” he said.

“It makes the different and people come back every day for it.”

To ensure this level of quality is maintained Chapman said it’s a mixture of great ingredients, proper training and, primarily, passion.

“Our back of house and front of house staff are all passionate about their jobs and the product we try to produce every day,” he said. “If it’s not right, we won’t serve it.”

Although quality is the key to 1816’s success, the team are always looking for ways to innovate and develop recipes to keep customers excited.

With no shortage of great chefs in town, Chapman said he’s always inspired by others in the industry to continue creating and learning.

“Although my favourite is making the sourdough bread, I love developing new products,” he said.

“We use a local coffee roaster, Hellbilly Roasting, and I decided to mix some coffee shots through some sourdough and for some sweetness added whole dates and that was a huge success.

“I’m also trialling a beetroot bread at the moment and I’m interested to see how it turns out.”

While championing local producers is a strong suit of the bakery, the team also enable opportunities to collaborate with their suppliers and wholesale customers.

Although the bakery supplies a wide variety of businesses, Mr Matthews said there’s always a great relationship between the locals they trade with.

“We supply bread into the Eureka Street store, Café Sidra, Yellow Espresso, Tim Bone’s toasties and lots of other cafes,” he said.

“We’ve just recently done some potato buns for Aunty Jacks, that was a particular product that they were after, we worked with them on how to do it and incorporates Josh’s specialty.

“We’re even trying to use the grain that is used in the brewing process in the bread as part of the collaboration.”

Although the two businesses operate separately, there’s some obvious aesthetic and product-based comparisons between 1816 and Mr Matthew’s other venture, The Forge.

While the two literally share walls, Mr Matthews said they also uphold similar values of supporting local, producing at a high-quality and trying to best look after their customers.

“We just try to do something we love, make it as best we can, and when people are buying it, it’s great for us, we can do it again,” he said.

“For the future, as we grow the team, we are looking to develop more ideas and make more products because there is a market out there for high quality, locally made products.”