Why do bakers wake up so early? Because they knead the dough. Or at least that’s been the case for business partners Lachlan Bisset and Craig Stewart. In late 2017, they opened North Street Store, a neighbourhood “hot bread shop” with mighty loaves, cinnamon scrolls and comforting lunch and dinner items that lure fans to suburban Cottesloe on the regular. In 2019, the duo introduced us to Little Loaf, a bijou bakery that brought North Street’s winning flour power to South Freo. Come October, Bisset and Stewart will add a third member to the family: Big Loaf Factory Bakery, which, as the name suggests, is all about thinking and baking big.
“We’re going to make a lot of bread, we’re not ashamed to say it,” says Bisset. His dream is to be able to supply supermarkets, restaurants and cafes. “And we’re going to make the best bread that there is. We don’t believe that the only way you can be an artisan bakery is if you’re tiny. Everybody deserves to eat good bread ... [it] shouldn’t just be restricted to a select few.”
In their quest to bring good bread to the masses, the duo has taken over a 650-square-metre ice-cream factory in O’Connor, which they’re converting into a bakery. (The site was the former headquarters of Azzura Gelati, the company responsible for memorable frozen desserts such as the Coppa Bianco and the Peach Fantasia). A new six-figure oven is en route from Italy right now, and Bisset and Stewart finally have a home for all the second-hand baking and kitchen equipment they’ve accrued over the past three years.
While the move to bigger premises will enable them to ramp up their production of baguettes, sourdoughs and other North Street Store and Little Loaf bread staples – they expect production to triple once Big Loaf is open – the extra space will also translate to more products. Bisset dreams of being able to offer a different kind of rye bread each day of the week: German vollkornbrot (whole rye bread) one day, say, followed by spongy pumpernickel the next. Stewart hopes challah (a braided Jewish Sabbath bread) will be back on the menu. Both speak excitedly about the possibilities of a dedicated research and development lab at Big Loaf.
“We really want to push it all the way at both ends,” says Stewart, “There’ll be good table bread for everyone and then we can have very experimental, specialised stuff for our stores.”
In addition to increasing their baking capacity, inheriting a factory’s worth of ice-cream-making equipment has Bisset and Stewart dreaming about making their own frozen desserts in future. In a bid to cut down waste and celebrate a piece of Perth food history, they’ve salvaged some vintage Azzuri packaging, which they’ll use at Big Loaf as well as the established bakeries. A small retail outlet, in time, will open at the bakery. Regardless of what shape Big Loaf takes, its owners are certain about one thing: they’re in it for the long haul.
“We’re thinking long-term,” says Bisset. “This Big Loaf company is going to be around longer than we’re alive. We want it to be like Arnott’s.”