From apprentice baker to small business owner and supplier, garlic bread guru Jason Scott has come full circle with Foodstuffs South Island, the co-op that gave rise to his success.
Scott and his team at Christchurch-based Artisan Bakehouse have supplied Foodstuffs South Island stores with a range of specialty garlic bread from his Wigram factory for over a decade. Artisan Bakehouse uses traditional artisan methods to bake their bread, a 15-year-old starter dough and a 24-hour bulk fermentation process.
He's come a long way since starting the business, initially baking around 2,000 loaves a month, which has climbed to around 130,000 monthly.
"We're only a small factory in Wigram. We compete with the big fellas, so it's great to have the support of Foodstuffs South Island and our distributor, who have provided us with an opening," said Scott.
Scott's baking craftsmanship became apparent early on when he began his career as an apprentice baker at New World Timaru. He quickly became known as a skilled baker, hard worker, and go-getter, forming good relationships with the store's bakery manager at the time, Warren Taylor, and his team. He completed his bakery apprenticeship at the store, receiving top marks on the course nationally, and eventually went on to become Assistant Bakery Manager.
"The team at New World helped me find my passion. I was eager to learn and get a good grounding in the trade, so I made the most of my time there to pave the way for my next move: to travel the world with my new trade."
He worked as a baker in Ireland for Cuisine de France, which produces French bread and baked goods in the UK and Ireland, and at Coles Supermarket in Australia, before moving on to manage Michel's Patisserie in Queensland, one of the biggest patisserie franchises in Australia.
On returning to New Zealand, Scott worked as a baker for Canterbury University, keeping the bellies of students who lived on campus well-fed with his doughy delights.
One day, a distributor came into his bakery to try one of Scott's garlic bread rolls and liked it so much that he asked him to start baking and supplying them for a well-known restaurant chain.
Scott jumped at the chance and told himself he'd worry about securing a commercial bakery space to bake the rolls later. Luckily, a friend of his had a space in Timaru, so for several weeks, he split his time between two jobs; working at the uni during the week and baking in Timaru for the distributor at weekends.
Then, Scott decided to set up his own bakery business and become his boss, which opened the door to begin supplying his product to supermarkets.\
They wanted me to make garlic bread, so I thought, let's specialise in this product and be the best at it.
"They wanted me to make garlic bread, so I thought, let's specialise in this product and be the best at it."
Scott said he began by supplying to one New World store, which grew slowly to New World stores nationwide.
His top seller continues to be Artisan Bakehouse twin-pack garlic bread, available at New World stores nationwide.
He continued that the Artisan Bakehouse has a strong presence in Foodstuffs South Island stores and continued to roll out more products across Foodstuffs North Island stores.
Foodstuffs South Island New World Group Manager Stephanie Browning said working with local South Island suppliers like Scott was a real privilege.
"His story is what our co-op is all about," said Browning.
Browning said the Foodstuff's commitment to supporting local communities went beyond providing food.
"The co-op places a huge emphasis on developing people and providing meaningful work and career pathways."
Browning was able to nurture Scott's considerable talent and help him find a career that has taken him full circle, from New World bakery apprentice to a trusted supplier of incredible products our customers across the South Island love.
Foodstuffs' relationships with its supplier partners, like Artisan Bakehouse, are based on collaboration and shared insights. Foodstuffs need to be able to use its expertise and knowledge to help them refine existing ranges and test new ideas.
"It's a pleasure to be involved throughout the process, see our suppliers thrive and innovate and expand their products."
Browning added that the great thing about working with local suppliers was that Foodstuffs could target what customers were looking for and ensure supermarkets got the right products on shelves. She explained that working with Scott and seeing his journey with the co-op had been a rewarding experience, particularly with the terrific range of quality locally-made he makes that Foodstuffs is proud to back 100 percent.
Looking back on his 33-year bakery career, Scott said coming full circle and being a major supplier was cool. He has a bit of pride when he's in the supermarket and sees his product on the shelves.
"It's quite cool when you see your product in someone's trolley, or you go to someone's place for dinner, and they have it on their table," concluded Scott.