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The Bakehouse Owner Craig Poynter Lifts the Lid on Hockley’s New Artisan Bakery

7 February 22 interview: George White
photos: Ekam Hundal

After gaining a loyal following for its award-winning food in Sherwood, The Bakehouse has now opened a second cafe in the heart of Hockley. We chat to owner Craig Poynter about what people can expect from the city’s brand new artisan bakery…

You’ve decided to open up a new place in the city following many years of success in Sherwood. Why do you think you gained such a loyal customer base in that time? 
I think we’re just honest. We’re a family business, we have the same ups and downs as everyone else, and we’re very open about that. We’re not the sort of place to put the money in, open somewhere up and never show our faces there. I think it’s important to have a face for the name, it helps customers to really connect with what you’re doing. 

Why did you choose Hockley for your second store? 
It felt like the natural next step. Hockley has a real community feel to it, there are a lot of independents here. Obviously the food and restaurant scene has always been prominent but I think it’s now reaching a peak in terms of the quality and diversity on offer. 

You’ve mentioned wanting The Bakehouse to be a place for people to meet, chill and work. Why is this important to you?
We want this to be a social hub for Hockley. We feel that bakeries and cafes should be places where you can hang out, share ideas and have a laugh, and we managed to crack that in Sherwood. Mine and other people’s families have grown up there. Some people come in five or six days a week. It’s nice that customers have little milestones in their life based on trips to The Bakehouse - birthdays, anniversaries and so on. Now we want to bring that to the city. 

We want this to be a social hub for Hockley

You come from a really impressive culinary background, and have even worked in Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant. What was that like?
It was lots and lots of hours, but it was great. It’s definitely something that I wouldn’t go back to, but I don’t regret doing it. It helped to shape a strong work ethic and a focus on quality. There were unique moments I wouldn’t have experienced anywhere else; we’d have Prince William and Kate Middleton pop in regularly, for example. It was a tough environment, but it was so rewarding. 

How do you go about running your kitchen? Do you go for the Ramsay approach? 
My view is that if you’re managing a team, you should muck in yourself, and you should be open and honest. You can push people, but there has to be some sort of reward. It can’t be all shouting and swearing, no one can thrive in that environment. You need your team to know you’re on their side - if you support them, they’ll support you. 

Finally, since this is a science issue, how often do you experiment with new recipes and techniques? 
We do often play around with things and try to push the boundaries. We’ll have special nights where we do smoked food or cured food, which can throw up new ideas. But the science for us is getting things consistently high quality. We’re not necessarily probing and experimenting all the time, but we are always honing our skills and increasing our understanding of the baking process. 

The Bakehouse Hockley is now open on Carlton Street

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