Kazakh-owned bakery brings new flavour to sourdough bread in Newcastle

ASTANA – What are the benefits and challenges of running your own business? How do you find the way to your customers’ hearts?

The Astana Times interviewed Shynara Bakisheva, owner of Fresh Artisan Bread (FAB) Bakery, to learn about her company and the perfect dough recipe.

Photo credit: FAB Bakery.

Photo credit: FAB Bakery.

Started in early 2017 in Newcastle, England, FAB Bakery produces a large variety of sourdoughs and other breads whenever possible using organic and locally produced ingredients. Before opening the business, Karaganda-born Bakisheva participated in a 10-month artisan-baking course in 2014 at the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire. She also worked for Fenwick in Newcastle and the Vallum Farm food hub in the Tyne Valley.

“We try to support local businesses. If a new company, café or restaurant opens, they give priority to local traders and local producers to keep the money within the area. Whatever a customer spends, they pack straight into the area, so everybody benefits from it,” she said.

Bakery products such as bloomers, rolls, continental focaccia, ciabatta, panmarino and baguettes are delivered daily to 20 locations.

“I literally found a fantastic little place called Kiln. I gave them my samples and they loved it and they became my customer for ever. They were in a new business, I was a new business and we decided to support each other. I have done supplies now for over a year and we are both happy. They recommended me to other restaurants and cafés,” said Bakisheva.

“I have been telling all my friends and other people I know about this wonderful place that is not only a restaurant, but they also produce pottery on the same site and they supply different restaurants as well with their products. Kind of organically, our relationship grew from there. They are quite dear to my home because they were the first customers,” she added.

Photo credit: FAB Bakery.

Photo credit: FAB Bakery.

Her list of clients now includes the House of Tides, Newcastle’s only one-star Michelin and 4 AA Rosette awarded restaurant, The French Quarter restaurant and wine bar and Harrisa Mediterranean Kitchen.

“My husband helps me a lot, although he’s got a full-time job. He is an architect in a local practice. I do have just one employee. My business is still quite small. I have only one van, bakery and a driver. He is a trustworthy local man,” she said.

Bakisheva mostly bakes using sourdough with additional ingredients including rosemary, seeds, wild garlic, onion, tomato and sweet potato.

“My breads only use three main ingredients – flour, water and salt – and have a lovely tangy flavour,” she said.

Photo credit: FAB Bakery.

Photo credit: FAB Bakery.

Bakisheva plans to grow her business organically and slowly, as quality is paramount. At present, they currently produce approximately 200 loaves a day.

“I just aim to make a little bit more profit the next month and so on; for example, one month to make 1,000 pounds and next month, I would like to make 1,100 pounds. This is how I plan to grow. I do not want to grow too fast or too soon, because I think that is a recipe for disaster and error. I would like to just have retail, because now I’m a wholesale bakery and I would like to also offer my products to people. To have a retail outlet where you can come in, grab some coffee, a loaf of bread, have chitchat and go home happy,” she said.

She feels that the advantages and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur go hand in hand.

“Being your own boss is great. At the same time, no one else is going to take responsibility. If anything goes wrong, you did it yourself, but as long as you like what you’re doing, I think it is the main and important thing,” she said.

Customer feedback is a good way to distinguish quality products.

“Shynara supplies my cafe The Wild Trapeze with all of our bread and I honestly wouldn’t and couldn’t use any other baker. It feels like we have our bread delivered by a member of the family! A truly lovely person and of course and importantly… the bread is the best around and I can’t stop eating it myself. Keep it coming,” Anthony Blevins, one of her customers, wrote on Facebook.