Soul Food Project has arrived!

A few weeks ago I met up with 3 enthusiastic local foodies, and clearly good mates, at their ‘office’, the corner table in the Hare and Hounds Kings Heath. They told me of the plan they were hatching to launch an exciting new food venture in Kings Heath, bringing more great local food to this burgeoning foodie suburb of South Birmingham. Although I sadly haven’t got the capacity to supply them with bread for their new venture, and haven’t yet eaten there, I wanted to share with you this excerpt from their Facebook Page:

Soul Food Project has arrived to spice up and inject some fun into the Birmingham food scene. The kitchen is based in one of Birmingham’s busiest and most important independent pubs…the Hare and Hounds.

The Project is the brainchild of 3 Birmingham friends, Carl Finn, Matt Beck and Alex Morrall, who have between them over 10 years experience in the catering, service and promotion industry. The idea was formed over several bottles of Brooklyn Lager and a consensus that the standard of food served in pubs was in need of an overhaul of soul.

What makes Soul Food Project different to other pub food?

Well SFP takes influence from the diverse food landscape of America so…..
– Think smoked paprika and chilli infused Southern Fried Chicken,
– Think Sunburst salads,
– Think crayfish, chicken and chorizo Jambalaya from New Orleans,
– Think the best burgers in Brum
– Think Waffles and Rocky Road for the weekend.
and so much more..

Food is sourced locally where possible and each ingredient is treated with care and passion. The kitchen is open to ideas, suggestions and feedback and also plans to host live music, gastro evenings and much more….Watch this space.

It’s time to put some soul in your bowl!!!

Sould Food Project is serving at the Hare Hounds from 12-8 on Tuesdays-Saturdays, and 12-5 on Sundays. I’ve just noticed on their facebook page too that they now do waffle Wednesdays – 2 waffles for a fiver – bargain!

See you down there soon, T.

Food Inc. Film Screening

food inc

Hungry for Change?

Northfield Ecocentre in Birmingham are putting on a film screening of Food Inc. on Thursday 3rd June at 6.30pm. Entry is FREE.

The new film reveals the shocking truths about the food industry. You’ll never look at dinner in the same way. For more information about the film visit:

Northfield Ecocentre have asked Loaf to facilitate a short discussion afterwards on the issues raised by the film and local action around food, so I hope to see you there.

To book a place at the film screening call 0121 448 0119 or email

Northfield Ecocentre’s address is 53 Church Road, Northfield, Birmingham, B30 2JB (behind Oulsnam’s estate agent).

Course Spotlight: Butchery

I’m really excited about some of our upcoming new courses, not least the Butchery workshop that we’re running in collaboration with master butcher Steve Rossiter on the 14th April. Steve is a bit of a local legend around these parts, founding Birmingham’s first organic registered butchers in Mary Vale Rd, Bournville. Steve has agreed to help me run an evening workshop where we explore beak-to-tail butchery of poultry birds, along with some tasty and impressive ways of cooking them.

butchery poultry logo

We’ll start the evening with a whole chicken (one between two). Steve will then teach us how to respectfully joint it, and show us what else we can do with the various joints. Then I’ll take over, and lead us in some fantastic chicken recipes that show off your new found butchery skills and taste amazing too! We’ll be making butterflied chicken breast stuffed with homemade chorizo, chicken Raz al Hanout with minted cous cous, and pan fried chicken livers with a wild green salad. Anything we don’t cook, you get to take home and show off your new skills with!

The first course is on Wednesday 14th April from 6.30pm-9.30pm, and is a snip at just £50, which includes all the ingredients and equipment, course notes, and a full stomach! There’s still a few places available, so email to book your place!

Fingers crossed, we’re going to be able to offer a lamb-in-a-day type butchery experience in the Summer too!

Free Your Food!

There’s great news for families in the Selly Park area of South Birmingham, who now have access to a community food cooperative, and can buy all their essential store cupboard items communally, getting a cheaper price and bypassing the supermarkets. The South Birmingham Food Coop has been up and running since January 2010, and stock wholefoods and store cupboard items as well as environmentally friendly household products. Nancy from the food coop says:

Currently we order on an adhoc basis according to members’ demands from Suma (, a cooperative wholesaler based in Tadcaster. We are run for and by our members on a not for profit basis with the aim of providing affordable, quality and healthy food to our communities. In the future we hope to become an outlet for local producers and stock fresh produce too. If you would like to join and take control of your food, get in touch; the bigger our membership, the more we can do.

South Birmingham Food Coop are based out of Enheduanna Housing Cooperative in Selly Park and can be contacted by calling Nancy on 07923405153 or at

Birmingham Post calls for more local food – hurrah!

In this weeks Birmingham Post, food critic Richard Mccomb has a good old rant about the lack of local food available in Birmingham shops, especially the City Centre. We agree, go on Richard, you tell em’! Read it here

We’ve Started Growing!

After an inspirational visit to a relative’s garden in Hampshire at the weekend, the vegetable growing season has started with a vengeance here at Loaf HQ (a.k.a. my back garden). We’ve built some raised beds and moved the chickens:

raised beds

We’ve planted some seeds including four types of tomatoes, fennel, beetroot, turnips and lettuce:



We watered them with a specially adapted water bottle (in the absence of one of those funky mini watering cans):


We’ve popped them in propagators on a sunny windowsill, and now we just have to keep our fingers crossed and water them. These will be thinned out to individual pots in a few weeks probably. In the meantime we have some donated seedlings to care for :


Brummie Food is a Work of Art

Birmingham artist Eleanor Hoad is marking the end of her first year as ‘Artist in Residence’ for Erdington constituency by exhibiting work in the Community Gallery at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. It’s running for three months from April 2010, and she needs your help. She’s managed to get an old market barrow and is planning to make a display by filling it with produce made from Birmingham food – it all has to be non-perishable as the show is on for three months. So things like pickles, jams, chutneys, dried beans, syrups, herbal preperations, home brew etc are all great. Eleanor says:

“I’ve got the foyer area of the museum to display it in which is amazing, lots of people will see it and I’m keen to show the diversity of city produce that is possible.”

Eleanor is looking for donations of produce to fill the barrow with, although she can pay a little bit towards it, or you can have it back at the end of June when the show comes down. Donations need to be vegetable based as Eleanor’s looking for vegan items. If you can help at all by donating, or know of anyone Eleanor can get in touch with, please get in touch with her on 07974 934 917 or I’m hoping to go out on a forage and make some wild pesto to donate (sans parmesan) as my contribution.

To see what Eleanor’s been doing in her year in residence, you might want to check out this and this

Loaf wins an award!

tom + sourdough
Photo by Jane Baker /

Well, I had the honour today of making the winners list for the inaugural MAD’s (McComb Awards for Dining) brummie food awards in the Birmingham Post. Amazingly, I shared a page with such brummie foodie greats as Glynn Purnell, Luke Tipping, and Richard Turner. Not only that, but I seemingly had a whole category named after me, winning the ‘best outdoor-cooked eggs and muffin’ category. You can see the whole article by clicking here or see below for the full text of the mention:

Tom Baker, Cotteridge

Food evangelist, founder member of Birmingham-based LOAF social enterprise and self-taught cook, Tom Baker combines a democratic, culinary zeal with down-to-earth rustic cooking. Yes, like his surname, he is a baker – and an outstanding one at that. One of my food highlights was sharing freshly cooked muffins with the man, topped with fried eggs, all cooked in his adobe-style wood-fired earth oven. Dining alfresco in Cotteridge has never been so good.

Well that just about tops off a fantastic 2009 for me and I hope I can retain the tile in 2010! Tom.

Gift Vouchers now available

presentJust a quick note to tell you about two ways you can purchase Loaf gift vouchers for your loved one’s this Christmas! Firstly, Loaf director Tom Baker (that’s me!) is a registered bread making teacher on the excellent School of Everything website, and is one of only a handful of teachers chosen to take part in their Christmas gift scheme. You can purchase a day on one of Loaf’s ‘Bread: back to basics’ by visiting the gift’s section. It’s also worth hunting around for other interesting teachers on their too – you could buy a knitting lesson, photography tuition, or even a twitter masterclass!

Secondly, you can now purchase Loaf Cookery School gift vouchers direct from us. They are sold in multiples of £10, or if you want to buy a place on a specific course, a personalised voucher can be created especially for you’re loved one. Find out more on the new gift voucher page by clicking here.

An Urban Orchard for Kingstanding

prepare appleTwo inner city areas are to be transformed on Saturday 5th December when Erdington Artist in Residence Eleanor Hoad creates two unusual urban orchards. The orchards are unusual because winners of an Urban Orchard Competition have individually named each tree. Eleanor invited local people to enter the competition to dedicate a fruit tree to someone important to them. Nearly 100 people entered and these were narrowed down to 10 winning entries which range from the personal: Molly Wrights entry ‘my grandmother Violet Wright: I would like a part of her to be with me here in Erdington even though she is in Jamaica’ to the inspirational: Donna Gray’s entry ‘Charles Darwin: for the discovery of Evolution’.

The orchards will include cherry, apple and pear trees. The first trees will be planted at Kingstanding Leisure Centre between 11am and 12pm on Saturday 5th December as part of the BBC’s Breathing Places, Tree O’clock attempt to break the world record for the most trees planted in one hour.  Five more trees will then be planted in containers in the Central Square in Erdington from 1pm. The fruit trees will each have a plaque installed with the winning names. Some of the ten winners will be helping to plant their trees and all will receive a certificate.

The Urban Orchard is part of the ‘Prepare’ project run by Artist in Residence Eleanor Hoad and her volunteers. Eleanor has set up the scheme to make use of fruit growing in the city that would otherwise go to waste. Traveling by bike, spotting fruit trees overhanging walls and fences Eleanor has harvested hundreds of apples, pears and damsons from the Erdington and Kingstanding area. The second stage of the project is to plant more fruit trees and celebrate them.

Eleanor Hoad Artist in Residence said “The competition entries were so moving, they really showed how much value people place on trees as a way of remembering a loved one; through a tree a persons memory can live on. Planting fruit trees in the city is just one way we can rethink how unused patches of land can be utilised and used to produce food. Even the smallest patch can become an abundant source of fresh organic fruit and vegetables with a little thought”

For more information, contact Eleanor  at

Loaf Community Bakery

breadThe new year brings big news for loaf – we are launching Birmingham’s first community supported bakery. What the heck is a community supported bakery I hear you ask? The idea is simple, and it’s borrowed from the American community supported agriculture (CSA) model. Each month you ‘subscribe’ to a farm (or in this case, a bakery), giving a set amount of money upfront. Because of your monthly investment and commitment to the farm (bakery), the farmer (baker) has a guaranteed income and so can invest in equipment, tools, supplies, labour etc, in order to repay your investment with an agreed amount of produce every week. The farmer (baker) gets some security and a leg-up in surviving against the industrial food system, and you get wholesome produce, produced responsibly and sustainably, at a fair price.

Loaf Community Bakery will be launching in January 2010, and will provide bread to a limited number of monthly subscribers. Some of our bread may also be available at a local retail outlet for those who don’t want to commit to subscribing. However for the immediate future this will be a very limited scheme, we’ll take up to about 20 subscribers who’ll need to be able to collect their weekly loaf from Cotteridge, South Birmingham, although we will look at an additional pick-up point depending on demand. The bread will be mainly, but not exclusively sourdough, and mainly made with UK-grown organic wheat and rye flour. There’ll definitely be a white sourdough loaf and a 100% rye (which is almost impossible to find these days, especially fresh). Over the next few weeks, we’ll be asking you on here and on twitter how Loaf Community Bakery can best serve you – what day, time, price, variety etc. In the meantime if you have any thoughts or questions please leave them in the comments section below, or send an email to

If you’ve read this far, why not answer this poll:

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Still time to respond to our last poll too:

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Week One at Loaf Cookery School

pasta courseWell last week saw Loaf’s first week of doing business. We started on Thursday evening with a ‘Handmade Pasta’ workshop. Five people came along (six is our maximum class size), and by the end of the evening had successfully mastered kneading, rolling, and shaping fresh egg pasta, and made three classy sauces to accompany their handiwork. Alongside a nice Chianti, we enjoyed seasonal vegetable tortellini with a butter and blue cheese sauce, paperdelle puttanesca, and taglietelli carbonara. Oh and we made some orechiette with the scraps and a quick gnocchi demo. Phew, it was a lot of fun and the talented students picked up the techniques extremely quickly, without even using a pasta machine!

Saturday saw the first full day ‘Bread:back to basics’ course, and it was a sell out. We had a fabulous day, and produced some great breads.

bread course

Despite the weather we were dashing in and out to the earth oven to bake our white and multigrain loaves, in which we had earlier made our own pizza’s for lunch and fougasse to show off! We covered a couple of different kneading techniques and made some stunning ciabatta’s too. We covered the principles of sourdough baking, and I’ll be seeing some of the students next year when I do a Friday eve/Saturday morning ‘simply sourdough’ course – should be great fun! We finished off making brioche dough, and each student left with a bit of dough to refrigerate overnight, and bake at home. Check out this review of the day on the No Love Sincerer blog, and see our upcoming courses here.
All in all a great first week, knackering stuff though!

Local Fruit and Veg delivered to your door

sns034Just a quick post to highlight the latest exciting addition to our local food directory – Barrow Boy. Barrow Boy are a great new service operating in the Moseley and Kings Heath area, that deliver fresh fruit and vegetables directly to your door. The friendly face of Barrow Boy is Pauline Findlay, who collects class 1 produce daily from Birmingham wholesale market, much of which is grown locally (especially the veg), and drops it off (in her Morris Minor) to you at your convenience. She even gives 15 minute time slots so you don’t have to stay in! There is a huge amount of choice, and the quality and prices are reportedly amazing. You can find out more on the Barrow Boy website or by calling 0121 777 0344. Please mention Loaf when you get in touch.

Loaf Needs YOU!

cabbageLoaf has recently got through to the second stage of an application to the National Lottery Local Food Grants scheme, for our application to fund a local food campaign in Birmingham. This is great news, but we haven’t got the cash yet, there’s a lot of work to do before that happens.

My hope is that the little funding that we’ve applied for will kickstart a social movement around local food in Birmingham. I’m convinced there is people out there who care about food, and want to do something about it. If that’s you then I’d love you to be more involved – I want to get together a campaign group who will bring drive, enthusiasm, and action to help kickstart this campaign. If you want to get involved please send me an email to I envisage meeting up once every month or two to share ideas, plan stuff, and of course, eat and drink local refreshments! When there’s a few people involved I will set a meeting date for end of November / beginning of December. If you don’t want to come to a meeting but want to support the campaign in another way, get in touch too!