Renting a couple of extra stalls at the morning market just to manage the queues – that’s when Rebecca Foley and Lutz Richter knew they’d struck a chord with Sprout Artisan Bakery. This was the Saturday Fresh Market in Rocklea, deep in Brisbane’s southwest.

“People were coming just for us. They would tell us that,” Foley says. “They were coming from the other side of town – from North Lakes, Redcliffe. They were coming from Sandgate.”

Foley and Richter kicked off Sprout in the Food Connect kitchen in nearby Salisbury in 2014, after the couple moved from Sydney to be closer to Foley’s parents. The market debut came in January the following year, and soon enough Sprout was supplying cafes and providores such as Merriweather, Sourced, Botanica and Felix for Goodness.

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At the heart of the business was Richter’s then almost 30 years of experience as a pastry chef. He’d learned the craft as a 14-year-old in his native Germany before working at The Clarence Hotel in Dublin, owned by Bono and The Edge from U2, and later being part of the wave of international chefs who arrived in Sydney for the 2000 Olympic Games.

Foley and Richter met in 2012. “I’d been working in London,” she says. “I got back to Australia and immediately legged it to Sydney, where I met Lutz. He’d been talking about starting this business but our mutual friends were telling me, ‘He’s never going to do it. It’s too prohibitive. It’s so difficult in Sydney.’

“Then we came up to Brisbane to visit my parents and weren’t really enamoured with what was here at that time. We thought we could offer a really great food experience. And that’s how we kicked it off.”

The growth has been slow and steady ever since. In 2018 Sprout moved its baking operations into a larger space on Commercial Road. Last year, a wildly successful pop-up on Robertson Street in the old Jamie’s Espresso space led Melbourne based landlord Robert Zagame to offer Foley and Richter a longterm tenancy further up the hill on the corner of James and Harcourt streets. Finally, in early June, Sprout opened its own permanent shopfront.

“It’s been amazing,” Foley says. “It really has solidified all the effort and the reason why [we do this]. We get to front it. We get to showcase the products we’re really pleased to make.”

True to the brand’s understated form, Sprout Artisan Bakery is a relatively simple retail space in the cute black corner shop previously home to Waterlily Concept Store. The fit-out is a less-is-more combination of textured grey walls and painted black timber floors, the focus a glass cabinet filled with creations such as custard tarts, savoury bostocks (brioche toast), savoury and seasonal fruit Danishes, berry croissant baskets, and double chocolate croissant buns, all created using organic, sustainable flours from Gunnedah’s Wholegrain Milling, and Corman butter imported from Belgium.

There’s also a croissant toastie, for which Richter developed a technique to flat-laminate croissant dough – it comes with either bocconcini and prosciutto, or tomato, basil and bocconcini. The real draw, though, is arguably still Sprout’s sourdoughs, which are prepped, fermented, shaped, rested and baked in a process that takes anywhere up to 72 hours.

“People have tried to bake this stuff at home in the past year and they realise the time and craftsmanship it takes to produce these kinds of products,” Foley says.

Completing the experience is Mayde tea and espresso coffee supplied by superstar Surry Hills roaster Reuben Hills.

Still, Foley says, Sprout opening its own retail space shouldn’t be seen as an endgame, but a beginning.

“We’ve got some cool plans,” she says. “It’s obviously pretty simple right now but we’d love to put a pastry lab in there, and we’ve got some ideas for other things in the suburbs.”

Sprout Artisan Bakery
76 James Street, New Farm

Hours:
Tue to Sat 6am–2pm

sproutartisanbakery.com.au
@sproutartisanbakery