People know a lot about our bread but they don’t know much about the people behind the bread. We hope to change that with a Meet The Team series. As part of this we caught up with Marketa for an interview about her life with bread. Marketa works in the bakery – she started as a volunteer and then progressed to being a valuable member of the team very quickly.
Can you tell us about bread and your first memories of it:
Where I come from – the Czech Republic, bread is such a staple of life, you can’t run out of bread – it’s a disaster. It doesn’t mean that people bake it at home but we have lots of bakeries on our streets which would be open early in the morning and you would be shopping for your fresh bread and rolls.
I think that the yeast must be running through my veins since I was little because of the bread was always there – for breakfast, with the soup and for the dinner. At weekends we went for competition in running so my mum would be making sourdough bread sandwiches and I think it’s all related to these childhood pleasures like it’s something comforting.
Bread has always been part of our Czech cuisine. To be honest I never get fed up of bread. I mean, it’s like I can have it with butter, ham, jam or whatever – I just never get bored of it.
Recently I was investigating more about my great-grandfather and I remember my late grandmother telling me how her father used to be a baker. He had his own bakery in East Czech Republic (the area is called Moravia) and she told me some really beautiful stories when she was a girl how she used to help him – he had three daughters and unfortunately none of them wanted to follow up the business.
And actually my grandmother and grandfather met in the bakery because my great-grandfather employed this young handsome man: blond, blue eyes… and my grandmother fell in love and then my father came. The romantic story ends up not so romantically. When the communist regime came – 1948, basically all privately owned businesses became either nationalised or the business had to be closed down.
About bread being important – a Slavic tradition is that when a guest arrives to your house, you welcome him with the bread and salt. The bread because of the respect you showing to the guest and the salt because of the purity and uniqueness – when it was not such a normal commodity before.
It shows you are really kind and open to guests and guests shouldn’t refuse it – if he will refuse it it’s a disaster.
What is the name of the starter in Czech – because I like the German name: the Mother.
Also it’s similar in Spanish I think it is LA MASA MADRE. In Czech it is KVÁSEK. The translation means that it’s a ‘fermenting thing’.
I make fresh yeast based breads – like a variation of sweet breads on Christmas and Easter. It’s called Vánočka – it looks little bit like a braided Jewish breads Challah. That’s what I would bake traditionally for Christmas every year.
We also make apple and cinnamon bread pudding called Žemlovka – we would never throw any bread away – so we would use leftovers for that. Nothing goes to waste.
So the other thing I wanted to ask is why you chose to move to Folkestone because you kind of just picked it off the map.
We had never been in Folkestone before and we were searching as a British/Czech family to find a good mixture of coast beauty, nature, art, design and community with an easy access to London. Brighton, Margate, Whitstable and Hastings were all possibilities but Folkestone just felt right. So we visited on a good day and on a rainy day and we managed to speak to people who were very welcoming. We spoke to old and young people and everyone was willing to help us with their views of Folkestone. I brought my running shoes and explored the whole area by running around. I was impressed with the local schools and facilities. Coming from Prague my expectations were high in terms of kids activities and culture, but I realised everything we liked in Prague was in Folkestone as well.
The other positive point at the start was my discovery of Docker. As soon as I realised I can get a decent bread here, I knew I can live in Folkestone.
And tell us a bit about your career in Interior Design.
I started my Interior Design practice in 2009 after returning back to the Czech Republic from London. I graduated at UAL London – Chelsea College of Arts and gained my experiences in the architecture studio Spaced Out in London. I worked mainly on residential projects and some commercial interiors in Prague.
When I started having a family and begun participating in local community projects, the other doors opened for me. Together with local mothers – architects, we started a non-profit called Child Friendly City. Our work scope would vary from organising architectural workshops for kids to architectural conferences related to public spaces for children.
Being involved with the multicultural community in Prague we did some community events and markets – showing local people how to cook international cuisine, for example how to prepare Chapatis – my husband’s family (originally from Gujarat) are all into cooking vegetarian Indian food. His father was an Indian confectionery maker – that was his trade.
One thing we enjoyed doing in Prague was a concept from Finland called Restaurant Day, which has become an international movement where, for four days a year anyone can setup a stall in a town or city and sell food.
It’s a great concept of pop-up restaurants where the main objective is to have fun, to share new culinary experiences and to enjoy home like atmosphere.
I’m sure this would work really well in Folkestone – maybe in the East Yard at the harbour in the spring and you’ll have to come down and do your things.
Yeah for sure. This is the link: http://www.restaurantday.org/en/ – have a look at see how people do it. You can do it at home and complete strangers come round your house and can try a cuisine they have never tried before.
Well thank you very much for sharing all this with us. We’re very happy to have you working in the bakery and sharing your ideas and knowledge.