Waimea Weekly 12.10.2016
Don Rodrigo Sourdough Bakery is celebrating its first anniversary in the Richmond Mall. The latest chapter in what has been a whirlwind story for owners Katrin Hiller and Rodrigo Ardiles.
Around four years ago the business took its first steps, producing South American inspired pies for market sale, while selling their own bread at the end of Neudorf Rd thanks to an honesty box. “We wanted to provide something healthy for our children and people who tried it said it was very nice so we started selling it,” says Rodrigo. “We wanted to share it, I think it’s very sad that we are losing these old trades. We had an honesty box and a sign that said if people didn’t have the money, to still have their bread and pay later, a lot of people still remember us for that.”
When the demand for their bread outgrew a roadside stall they introduced it to the Motueka Market, then to the Nelson Saturday Market and Nelson Farmers Market, before branching out even further into wholesale supply. This mixture has kept them busy for the last three years until once again demand, combined with a longstanding wish, saw them establish their first retail shop in the Richmond Mall.
“It’s a very central place and Richmond doesn’t have a market, plus, it was an area we didn’t really have our foot in,” says Katrin. “The mall really is the Richmond market place and I do feel we did it because demand was growing, we were getting so busy at the markets that we were totally confident the community wanted a retail shop.”
So what is it that makes Don Rodrigo Sourdough Bakery bread such a favourite? For one, all their bread products have a sourdough starter and unlike most of the commercial products, their bakery goods are free from commercial yeast, additives and chemical improvers. “There’s a big trend of quitting gluten and quitting anything that has wheat in it,” says Rodrigo. “I believe the main issue with bread nowadays is preservatives though and the use of commercial yeast. Our bread is fermented over 12 hours which makes gluten easier to digest and we don’t use any sort of preservative.”
They are also passionate about the traditional methods and teach their bakers everything they know about the ways of artisan baking.
“When you have a bakery like this, you have to have a lot of people to help run it,” says Rodrigo. “I have people who only take care of the sourdough, I have people who just shape the bread, people who just do the deliveries and people who solely work for customers service. We try to provide everyone with the proper training so they can be excellent in what they do.”
Their bread is now even being sold at Fresh Choice supermarket in Nelson. “One of the bakers there told me that a man around 70 years old came in and said that our bread tasted like the bread that he used to eat when he was a kid and hearing that is pretty cool,” says Rodrigo.
“It’s not that long ago that people started using commercial yeast so there are generations around who remember traditional bread,” says Katrin.
While Don Rodrigo Sourdough Bakery may not have a huge range, all of their products are made with a purpose, which is why they are now starting to make tin loaves for people wanting sandwich bread for kid’s lunches. When it comes to their doughnuts, Rodrigo and his team created them as a $2 treat, “because everyone has $2 in their pocket,” while their pesto sticks are created to attract attention in a crowded Saturday market.
Rodrigo believes that 30 per cent of their success comes from their outstanding products, the rest is down to customer service and their openness about what they do. That’s why they’re starting off their second year with a new website which will offer people an online ordering option, as well as accommodating a blog and videos so that people can view recipes and see how the team creates their artisan items. Rodrigo and Katrin are also looking at offering some new ranges including packaged bread, which will allow people to buy larger amounts of their favourite products and keep them for longer in the fridge, or freezer thanks to special packaging. Plus, a family orientated range will feature cheaper priced bread in convenient forms including XL tin loafs and ciabatta rolls.
For Rodrigo and Katrin, the aim always has been and will continue to be about feeding New Zealand families. “It’s not an idea from overseas, this is New Zealand sourdough bread and my dream is for this to become a staple food in family homes,” says Rodrigo.
Keep an eye out for their new family range shelf, come and visit them at their Richmond Mall store, or enjoy their bread as you wander around the Nelson and Motueka markets.