StoriesWarwick Quinton

Legal at last

StoriesWarwick Quinton
Legal at last

So, onwards into the future we go. This is the final part of the three part series about the Illegal Bakery. This is the bit where we go really, really legit.

Living with a Bakery Underfoot

Clovelly was a lovely place, and we had begun a wonderful bakery there, but all things change. My young family was growing rapidly, and pretty soon Vanessa was popping out with our second child, and the flat above the Clovelly bakery was seeming a trifle squeezy.

Not to mention the fact that the noises travelling through the floor at all hours of the day and night were making it more than a little difficult for all concerned to actually sleep. There were the constant smells of bakery life wafting through every part of the flat. The comings and goings of our now small team of bakers, business partners, partners of business partners, delivery people and sundry customers, again, at all times of the day and night.

My little family had had more than enough broken sleep and bakery life, so we sought to escape somewhere nearby. Let one of the other partners take on living with a bakery! I mean, there were benefits (like peppercorn rent), but in our case the benefits had long worn thin. This is now our third 'live in' bakery, remember!

Vanessa and I longed to nest, and the Clovelly flat above the bakery did not a nest make. We moved up the road to Randwick - a 'semi detached', which was a sweet old single storey terrace about a block from Centennial Park.  I would ride to work before my night shift - all down hill - and pedal home with the sun at my back in the early morning, all the way up the long gentle incline of Clovelly Road till I arrived home. It was idyllic.

We used to make jokes about another Sydney gourmet bakery, which used an image of a baker on a bike in it's logo, and call ourselves truly 'authentic'...all of us bakers, at that time, rode bikes. 

As Vanessa and I lived across the road from Centennial Park, and as our family expanded to two littlies, we would take long walks in the park each afternoon; after I had napped, of course. Night shift causes one to become hooked to 'nanna naps' - and I am indeed still hooked. Actually, I have to say that I am pretty much a master of the nanna nap these days. I can lay down at any time of day or night, and wake up almost exactly 30 minutes later. I never need an alarm.

I distinctly remember the state of mind night shift provokes in a person, particularly evident after  only a few months; I transformed gradually from my usual high energy, chatty self, to the archetypal 'strong silent type'. It wasn't voluntary - it's just the effect of counter cyclical sleeping rhythms. It takes a while to marry up thoughts with speech, so it's just easier not to talk!

Some found this Warwick a much easier person to be with. I observed my new coolness with a remote smile. I was a slightly different creature, and I didn't mind him!

Centennial Park is a stunning piece of Sydney. It is a hub of life and living in a way that Sydney people do so well - outside, involving bodies and equipment and sweat - and there was always a passing parade to observe in our many long walks. We watched the seasons change, and ourselves too.

The bakery was continuing to grow, and inevitably other stuff came into it - loosely put, this 'other stuff' could be categorised into 'matters of aesthetic' and 'philosophy'.  I had begun on a mission, and my mission was simply to make great bread using organic flour. However, we had always embraced a raft of alternate philosophies, all three partner / bakers, and this was a time when 'setting the course' was very important for all of us. The other two wanted to become more aligned with certain philosophical treatises that we were all passionately involved with, while I was more interested in getting good bread to the mainstream.

I really liked all the great new European and Continental breads we were making, using white flours. White flour, it was believed, was a Bad Thing, a 'shortcut to bowel cancer' as Simon put it in a Sydney Morning Herald interview at the time. There was some consensus between Simon and Jurek that they wanted to head down the whole wheat, earth food path of the 'whole food' movement.

I wasn't into it. I wanted out. I wanted multicultural, eco friendly, 'cosmo' breads, which were a gathering of all that was great about this crazy, mixed up world of ours. I still really liked rich, grainy breads too - and have continued to make them for thirty years now. It was just that Vanessa and I had decided to do our own thing, and get out of town. Vanessa had family in the Blue Mountains region. We decided to head for the hills.

There was a Cafe owned by a friend of Vanessa's mum, in the main street of Leura, right next to the newsagent. A prime location. Rafael, the longtime owner, was prepared to sell, if he could work in and design the new shop - which was to be called 'The Baker's Cafe' (Vanessa's natural marketing flair kicking in as always for great concepts). Everything was coming together.

So we bought our first house in Medlow Bath and headed for the mountains...

Years later, all of this experience has gone into my other main passion - teaching. Check out the School of Sourdough website to learn more.