A NEW Forest baker was truly able to have his cake and eat it when his family business which has crossed three generations was named best bakery in Hampshire for the second year running.
The Bakehouse in Brookley Road, Brockenhurst, secured the prestigious title in the National Bakery Awards 2020, beating competition from a list of other nominees including larger scale companies.
Master baker and owner Steve Jose and his wife Lee managed to pick up their silverware when they attended the awards ceremony in London in March – just over a week before the first Covid-19 national lockdown was enforced.
Speaking to the A&T, Steve explained he decided to delay announcing the triumph as the pandemic took hold.
“To win once is wonderful – a once in a lifetime opportunity – but to win it twice is off the scale,” he said.
“I was shocked, obviously, to win a second time. The first time, I thought it was my mates having a joke with me when I received the email telling me the bakery had won.
“Hampshire is a busy county, so we were up against a lot of bakeries.”
The last of a string of bakers’ shops run by the family in a history stretching back nearly 200 years, the Bakehouse was expanded by Steve in 2000 to enable all produce to be baked on-site.
As a result, the cakes, pastries and breads sold by the business, which employs nine staff, most of whom are family and friends of the family, are freshly prepared the same day.
The company – originally called Jose and Sons – previously operated out of 13 bakers’ shops across the New Forest and Bournemouth areas, including one opposite the A&T’s offices in New Milton.
A fourth generation of the family is set to inherit the master baker’s hat when Steve (63) hands the ownership over to his son James (31) upon his retirement.
Describing the Bakehouse as “a true family business”, Steve credited continued support from residents and visitors for the fact it had continued to thrive despite the pandemic.
“Brockenhurst is quite a special location because it’s got a wonderful train station which brings in all the walkers, bike riders and tourists, and people from London,” he explained.
“We’ve got a campsite when it is open in the summer and a college of 3,000-4,000 students, as well as 5,000-6,000 locals who really do utilise the shops in the village.
“During the coronavirus, Brockenhurst became a honeypot for cyclists and walkers, and we’ve been doing August trade in Brockenhurst in November, which is incredible.”