Walmer eatery keeps it simple and healthy
When Eastern Cape food-lovers Mark Malan and Bradley Paul met at the South African Chefs Academy in Cape Town six years ago, little did they know that their collective skills, passions and business savvy would make the perfect recipe for a successful baking and pastries business.
Years later and having sharpened their respective culinary skills, Port Elizabeth-born Malan, 25, and Paul, 27, from Kenton-on-Sea,are now co-owners of the increasingly popular Banneton Bakery and Cafe, which opened its doors in Walmer’s bustling Main Road six months ago.
“We always have had a kind of a mutual understanding and love for food, especially pizzas.
Through this relationship, we decided to give it a go,” Malan said.
“We first started with a small mobile company selling pizzas at the back of trailer and went around to various festivals and events.”
Malan pointed to the commonalities with his business partner, their specific food offerings and their business location among the keys to their early business success.
He revealed that they had both graduated with diplomas from the Chefs Academy in2010 but soon went their separate ways.
Malan went abroad for a year, during which time he focused on honing his baking and pastries skills, and returned last year.
Paul worked at a coffee company, where he interacted with players in the hotel industry.
“I worked on my chef skills while working at the coffee company, where I was employed for two-and-half years,” Paul said.
“I then left to work as a car salesman because I am also passionate about cars.
This job involved interacting with people quite intensely, which means that I was able to pickup a lot of people skills.”
Last year, Malan and Paul teamed up again –this time at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
Their collaboration proved to be atrial run for their future business and was where their concept for Bannet on Bakery and Cafe was born.
They cater for three primary markets – family get-togethers, group meet and greets, and businessmen and women.
Banneton employs 16 people, including input from both Malan and Paul’s relatives, and is run along the lines of a “family business”.
Malan’s mother, Nicky, works at the bakery while Paul’s mother Rosdale, who lives in Grahamstown, helps out from time to time.
Tapping into the highly popular health, hand made and organic foods market, Banneton strives to deliver as many authentic foods as it can and creates many of its own products, ingredients and condiments itself using authentic methods and top-quality ingredients,these include items such as tomato sauce, bread and orange juice.
Along with the use of the best stone-ground flour and sour dough, the bakery’s success can also be attributed to the partner’s hands-on involvement, with a wide variety of breads produced in a large wood-fired bread oven.
The business also specialises pastries and confectionery like paste is de nata, macaroons and madeleines.
Orders are served in Le Creuset plates, bowls and cups in a rain bow of delightful shades.
Malan said the business was akin to “bringing a little piece of Europe to South Africa”.
“We wanted to create a place where you can see exactly how things are prepared. If you have questions, you simply walk up and ask because we have an open plan type of bakery.
“We wanted to raise the bar and keep in touch with what is happening elsewhere.
Food is forever evolving. We sell everything fresh and donate food we have not sold to charities.” Malan’s advice to budding entrepreneurs is: “Make it happen before someone else does it.”