From fashion designers and artists, to dancers and puppet makers, The Chocolate Factory in Wood Green is home to a vibrant array of makers and doers. We speak to the company filling Western Road with the smell of freshly baked bread all year round.

Situated in the old Chocolate Factory, North London, The Celtic Bakers have been lovingly crafting an array of organic breads and pastries on site for years. From pecan and cranberry sourdough, brioche burger buns, and Italian-style focaccia; to Portuguese custard tarts, luxury fig flapjacks, and triple chocolate brownies – the artisan bakers (quite literally) cater to all tastes.

"The thing that excites me most about this business – I know this sounds like a cliché – is our customers," says Managing Director Toby Mitchell. "Our customers are some of the best eating and drinking establishments in London."

Operating on an independent customer basis, the London-centric business supplies baked goods to small sized owner-operated cafes, right through to larger chains, top-quality restaurant groups and food halls – all situated within the M25.

"We love to supply to farmers' markets too," says Toby, "and we're a part of roughly eight or nine farmers' markets every week." And, priding themselves on the fact that they bake from scratch using natural ingredients, the wholesale bakery draws upon knowledge and techniques passed down through the generations to produce the perfect loaf.

"It's all about passion for the food, really," says Toby. "Every loaf that leaves our bakery has been carefully hand-shaped. And with some sourdoughs taking 48 hours to produce, it’s quite a journey from start to finish. They are very lovingly crafted things."

True bread winners

But more goes into producing the organic artisan loaves than simply fermentation and baking; The Celtic Bakers are on a mission: recycling as much waste product as is possible. "If we over-bake a batch, we recycle this into animal feed, for example," says Toby.

"We also work with a charity called Breadwinners and they work with refugees. They run two or three market stalls a week staffed by refugees and we’re one of the suppliers of bread," says Toby. "It’s really good to work on a project that isn’t 100% commercial. And an important part of our philosophy is to leverage business for the good."

The perfect mix

With myriad connections throughout Wood Green and wider Harringay area, The Chocolate Factory forms the ideal base for the bakers. "You look around here, and it's a house full of creative arts. There's a real buzz to the place that suits us nicely," says Toby. "I think an artisan bakery, although it's not perhaps a usual Workspace tenant, actually fits in really well with the whole ethos of the place."

"We see what we do as something that's creative, something that's artisan, something that needs to be crafted and shared," says Toby, "and there's always a chance of bumping into likeminded people here at The Chocolate Factory – be that in the café or the lobby area."

And, with customers forever keen to spy the bakers' latest treats, Toby predicts a collaboration-filled future for the bakery. "We're very interested in linking up with creative people here at The Chocolate Factory to help us with our marketing, social media and food photography, for example," he says. "It seems crazy not to use the links, so I'd like to make use of this in the near future."

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