In the 1990s, Gail Mejia brought the best bakers in town together to bake for London’s top chefs and restaurants. Our wholesale business, The Bread Factory, which was named ironically because it has always exclusively specialised in handmade, traditional artisan baking, continues to thrive renamed as Central Craft Bakery serving top restaurants and customers.
Gail met Tom Molnar, our CEO and Co-Founder, who saw an opportunity to bring quality craft goods to customers, in an environment where good food could be celebrated together. Our first bakery opened in London’s Hampstead High Street in 2005. Today, we have bakeries in neighbourhoods in and around London, Oxford, Manchester and beyond.
Though we’ve grown over the years, our philosophy has remained the same: to make good food that people love, and create bakeries that people want to keep coming back to. Second, only to the love for our mother doughs, we take the most joy from daily chats with our regular customers, many of whom have been with us since we started.
A NOTE FROM TOM
After a decade of exclusively serving some of the world’s best chefs, we opened our first GAIL’s in London’s Hampstead High Street. Our aim was to bring chef-quality bread and
baking to neighbourhoods. We thought craft baking should be enjoyed and celebrated more widely.
Of course, many people thought it was too early (they always do), but we felt it was all getting a bit late. We imagined small places filled with long fermentation sourdough breads, fresh morning goods and other food just out of the oven.
Our hope was that GAIL’s would become a place where our craft bakers could meet the chefs they served and the food lovers in the neighbourhood. After a few years, we added specialty coffee because it shared so many of the elements of craft baking to get it right – knowledgeable sourcing, attention to detail and reliance on skill.
When I look around at London’s vibrant food scene and the UK’s growing appreciation for quality baking, coffee and food, I feel proud to be a part of the change, but there is still so much to do. Knowledge of ingredients, skill in production and care in our supply chains is still too rare. There is a better way that is healthier for us and our communities.
Fortunately, we still have skilled bakers who understand the craft and can teach others, but we need more places to celebrate what they do. We shouldn’t rest until every community can choose craft. The ethos of a craft baker – to do everything to a high standard, pay attention to details, respect the ingredients and share widely – is an ethos we think is worth living by.
See you in the bakeries,