Honey + Harvey founder launches new bakery and café
- Credit: Rosie Mills-Smith
Nothing typifies the Slow Food movement quite so much as bread. The simple alchemy of combining a few ingredients – flour, salt, water, starter/yeast. The mindfulness of concentrating on kneading the dough.
Over the last decade we’ve seen a sourdough revolution sweep the globe, as more and more home cooks and professional bakers stepped away from insipid, ‘plastic’ bread, instead embracing the natural beauty of a process that has been harnessed and honed over thousands of years.
A familiar face on the Suffolk foodie scene is looking to combine this baking heritage with a sprinkle of kookiness at a brand new, very exciting venture over at Rendlesham’s Base Business Park.
Harvey Allen is best known as the founder of Honey + Harvey. But before he set up the brand (which grew to 15 sites pre-Covid – many of them in the south of England), you’d have found the food obsessive driving around the Suffolk countryside as a partner in Pinney’s in the early noughties – spreading the word about the family-run business’s tremendous, award-winning fish.
Harvey says he spent a lot of time out and about, seeing customers face-to-face. And it’s this that he’s missed as Honey + Harvey has branched out over the last 10 years. Hitting the ground running. Being on the frontline at service.
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“That’s what I really love doing,” Harvey reveals. “Speaking to chefs. Being on the road. Yes, it’s very vocational, but satisfying. It blends my enjoyment of talking to people about food with giving them a really good product. I grew up in a dinner, bed and breakfast, watching my mother cook for guests throughout my childhood. I think that’s where I get my passion for it from.
“When we started Honey + Harvey I enjoyed making the coffee and doing a bit of everything, but as time went on, we employed other people to do those jobs. I just wanted to get my hands dirty again. I always had a vision of a bakery with a café around it, and a retail counter, with all the theatre of cooking and preparing going on. That’s where I want to go now.”
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Although he retains shares in the business, this summer Harvey stood down as an operational member of the Honey + Harvey team to concentrate on getting back to his roots. The things that matter to him.
“It was a case of ‘let’s do something’ and ‘where are we going to do this’?”
Swiftly, Harvey brought craft baker Carl Brennan (former head baker at Pump Street in Orford, but no relation to owner Chris Brennan) who had worked for him years ago, into the fold. Incredibly he managed to find premises and finance, and get the ovens firing within just eight weeks.
Customers such as Leo’s Deli in Framlingham, and the Grundisburgh Dog Deli, were early converts to their loaves.
But while wholesale is important to Harvey, it’s being public-facing that’s close to his heart. And he wants to make a huge impression on the east Suffolk food scene.
What better way to do that than by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at a fun renovation of the former Cake Shop Bakery wholesale baking premises?
“It’s really bold and brash,” Harvey says excitedly. “We’ve painted the building jet black, and we’ve got a pink, neon illuminated sign. It’s something a bit different for this part of Suffolk. We’re on a former American base, and the place is called America House so it just made sense.”
Harvey & Co will over the coming weeks become a proper sit-in bakery/cafe, with a counter of delicious treats, Butterworths coffee served out of the 10-year-old, refurbished coffee machine Harvey started out with more than a decade ago, windows peeking into the ‘engine room’, and a menu of simple, high-quality fare.
“To start that will be some really lovely Roman-style pizzas by the slice in the day. Some brioche rolls with Pinney’s smoked chicken. Sourdough focaccia with Italian cream cheese and sunblush tomatoes,” Harvey explains.
In the meantime, visitors to Harvey & Co (which should be opening imminently) will find a bread counter, coffee and sandwiches from 8am to 3pm daily, sold from the double doors leading into the baking room.
“What’s really cool,” says Harvey, “is you’ll be able to see people making stuff. There’s not many bakeries these days where you can watch bread being made. It’ll be nice for customers to see the people who made their bread, where they bake and what they do. I was kind of inspired by Steve at Bread Source in Norwich. There he’s got a counter at the bakery piled up with croissants, pastel de natas, a few traybakes and lovely filled sandwiches. It’s a great set-up.”
On Thursday nights (5pm to 9pm) Harvey plans to sell sourdough pizzas made to order. Customers will also be able to buy unbaked pizza dough to cook at home.
“If you got a pizza oven in lockdown, have gone back to work, and think you don’t have time to make dough from scratch anymore you can grab these, freeze them, and when you need them, they’ll defrost in about three hours and you’re ready to go. I’ve spoken to so many people with pizza ovens who don’t use them anymore and that’s a shame. I want to get them baking again.”
Bread-wise, Harvey and Carl are keeping it very traditional and simple at the moment, wanting to get the word out about their core range before they ‘jazz it up’.
“We’ve started with the Woodbridge White,” says Harvey. “It’s made with Marriage’s flour, and it’s a three-day long fermentation process. Those come in 1kg or 700g loaves.
“Our Parisian sourdough took two weeks to master in the oven, but I think it’s outstanding. It’s got a lovely texture in the middle, with the thinnest, finest crust.
“And a really interesting one we do is the Tide Mill Tang. It's 60% Tide Mill flour. That’s a high protein wheat from Halesworth, ground by Dan the miller in Woodbridge at one of the oldest working tide mills in the country.
“It’s got quite a high level of wholemeal, similar to a Polish bread, and when you cut it in half it’s still a bit tacky. It’s a wonderful creation. Pile on some smoked salmon, some capers, dill, cream cheese. It’s superb with scrambled eggs and hot smoked salmon. Or just serve it with a bit of raw butter from Fen Farm. That’s a product we love and care about.”
Harvey says they’re just about to craft a seeded loaf too, made with a seed mix from Suffolk’s Munchy Seeds, and a touch of rye flour from William Kendall at Maple Farm.
“And then we’ve got the traditional farmhouse loaves, sandwich tins, cobs and blooms too.”
It’s easy to get swept up in Harvey’s enthusiasm, which shines through clearly as he speaks.
“I’m just really excited about it. I’ve never been in this for the money. I’ll just be so happy to see a shop filled with happy staff and happy customers.”
Click and collect is currently available online via harveyandco.uk/shop, for collection at the bakery at 7-9 America House, Base Business Park, Rendlesham. Follow Harvey_andco on Instagram for updates.
Harvey will also be at Ipswich Farmers' Market on Cornhill this Sunday, October 3.