Events Real Bread Campaign

Baking a Better Career

Webinar Tuesday 2 February 2021 15:00 17:00

An online Real Bread Campaign event for SME bakery decision makers.

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The event

More than 130 people heard four Real Bread bakery professionals share their experiences of running successful, profitable businesses in ways that better support their team members physically, psychologically and financially. This peer-to-peer event also included opportunities for participants to ask for – and share - information and advice.

It focussed on topics including production scheduling and staff hours; involving team members in decision making; pay and benefits; and building mental wellbeing into a bakery’s opps and culture.

The panellists

Four speakers, from both sides of the Atlantic, each spent ten minutes outlining one aspect of their business-boosting, employee-focussed activity:

Laura Bullock, owner, Seven Hills Bakery, Sheffield: Being a Living Wage employer.
Mel Darbyshire, head baker, Grand Central Bakery, Seattle and Portland: Fighting the employees’ corner in business decisions.
Ryan Morgan, owner and head baker, Sixteen Bricks, Cincinnati: Investing in bakery equipment as an investment in your team
Cindy Zurias, baker and consultant, 26 Degrees: How I abolished the night shift.

This was followed by a Q&A with the panellists for all participants, and then time to make comments and general chat about baking a better career.

Who’s this video for?

People who make HR, operational and other decisions that affect people in an SME bakery. Other team members were also invited to participate, and some elements might be of interest to sole trader microbakers, though the focus is on small, Real Bread bakeries with employees.

The event was run by the Real Bread Campaign in collaboration with baker Cindy Zurias and Roots to Work – the charity Sustain’s good food jobs site. It is intended as the start of a longer, wider conversation about businesses going beyond current employment law and common practice in the sector to make Real Bread baking a more inclusive, sustainable and rewarding career.

About the panellists

Laura Bullock is the founder and owner of Seven Hills Bakery in Sheffield, celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. The bakery currently employs 10 people and has been a Living Wage accredited employer since April 2016. Largely self-taught, Laura’s training also included graduating from the School of Artisan Food’s inaugural Advanced Diploma in Artisan Baking course and working in a number of artisan bakeries. A hands-on owner, Laura says: “I have done every job in the business at one point or another. The only thing I don't do is drive!”

Mel Darbyshire is the head baker of Grand Central Baking Company. Mel has been baking for over 20 years. She focuses on working with local farms and mills to bring regional grains and artisan practices to high volume baking, and to support a sustainable local economy. She oversees the bakery production operations, including all recipe development, education and training, at the company’s Washington and Oregon production facilities. Over the years, Mel has been involved in teaching classes for the Bread Bakers’ Guild of America and at The Bread Lab. Grand Central Baking Company is locally owned and operated and has been baking artisan bread and pastries since 1989 Their mission is to serve delicious, authentic food made from high-quality local and sustainable ingredients, while growing a healthy, values-driven business.

Ryan Morgan is the founder, owner and head baker of Sixteen Bricks Artisan Bakehouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. For 10 years, Ryan studied baking under Jeff Yankellow and Didier Rohsada and was later mentored by Mike Zakowski. He has competed for a spot on the USA team and written for the Bread Bakers Guild of America. He has pursued his passion for 100% wholegrain flour for the past 8 years and used that to create 'a product of epic flavor and integrity.'

Cindy Zurias was born and raised in Venezuela. Her passion for sourdough drew her away from cheffing and into the bread world where, eventually, she became head baker of one of the largest artisan bakeries in London. There she developed operational and management strategies to help bakeries be more efficient. This means greater profits; it also means advancing staff wellbeing, goals that Cindy believes work together. At the height of the pandemic, her techniques returned record profits, whilst eliminating the night shift. Her dream now is working towards a new, efficient, healthy and sustainable bakery world. She wants to see healthier bread and healthier bakers.

The event was hosted by Real Bread Campaign co-ordinator Chris Young and Roots to Work's Abi Taylor.


“I think when you work (or manage) a busy bakery with deadlines, it can be hard to think outside the box and imagine how things could be different. It was interesting and helpful to hear successful bakeries giving examples of how they improved working conditions. Different perspectives on how to retain staff, increase participation of women in bakeries, abolishing night shifts and moving towards a four day working week.” Anya Aseeva, co-owner, Joyce Country Bakery, Ireland  

“It was really great to get so many perspectives from peers and share in challenges and successes.” Gina Langley, retail product manager, Grand Central Bakery, USA   

“As someone who has been baking for 50 years and lately been a bit disillusioned with what bakeries offer customers and their staff, and the industry as a whole, it was inspiring to see bakers’ enthusiasm again.” Barry Akins, owner, Akins Family Bakery, England

“I found this event so useful. Some great speakers. I really enjoyed listening to their stories and how they got started - very honest up front and open discussion.” Tina Hawkes, owner, Eat Your Crusts, England

“The event allowed me time to think about what improvements we could make, while being inspired by much bigger bakeries than ours.” Hilary Hughes, creative producer, Bread In Common, England    

“A great opportunity to connect with other bakers, hear others’ views and find some motivation.” Siobhan Reynolds, baker, Camphill Holywood Bakery, Ireland

“Such a fantastic and inspiring event to see the bakers all around the world sharing experiences and advice with each other, keep the conversation going!” Pin, Design for Social Innovation MA graduate, UAL, England


  • The event is free but any donation is welcome and will go to the charity Sustain to help it continue running the Real Bread Campaign.
  • Donations will only be refunded if the participant cancels up to one week before the event, or if the event is cancelled by the organiser.
  • Panellists are donating their time and the line-up is subject to change without notification.
  • Participants are encouraged to join the event waiting room around five minutes before the published start time, when they will be admitted.
  • Questions can be asked verbally and via the Q&A function, though the organiser can’t guarantee all questions will be taken and answered.
  • By attending, participants understand and agree that videos and comments from the event will be sent to other participants, and may be made available more widely.
  • The organiser reserves the right to block any attendee who is abusive, or otherwise disrupts the event.
  • Participants will be invited to give feedback to help decide next steps and shape future events.
  • Participant details will be held securely and used in accordance with Sustain’s privacy policy.
  • If you make a donation, Eventbrite will add a small, non-refundable fee.

Published Tuesday 2 February 2021

Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.

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