Justin Gellatly: baker ahead of the game

Justin Gellatly is the unassuming Head Baker at Borough Market’s Bread Ahead, which opened in 2013. The bakery has earned itself a reputation for making London’s most fought-over doughnuts and has even baked for royal weddings. And with a bakery school that has classes booked up weeks in advance, there’s no stopping this force.

About Justin and the bakery

Who started Bread Ahead and how long has it been in operation?

Matt Jones, Justin & Louise Gellatly and Chris Malec. We opened September 2013

What’s the inspiration and philisophy behind the bakery?

To bake amazing bread and to teach people how to bake in our school, education is really important to us here at Bread Ahead.

We drool over the doughnuts on your Instagram – what’s the inspiration behind the flavour combinations?

Well it all depends on what’s in season, and also what I have been developing. I have just done some cheeky pine custard ones but one of my favourites was the cornflake and raspberry custard doughnuts.

Bread ahead doughnuts

Where do you source your ingredients?

We use Marriage’s flour which is based not far away in Chelmsford and for our fruit and veg we of course use Borough Market which is where the bakery is based. It’s a great location as you get to see all the produce out on display.

What do you love about your job?

I love to bake, to be part of an amazing team and to make lots of people happy with delicious things like our ‘Pillows of joy’ doughnuts. But the best thing is I get to work with my amazing wife Louise.

Tell us about a couple of really important collaborations in your work?

Well I did the bread for William and Kate’s royal wedding including sourdough rolls and these amazing butter buns for their bacon sandwiches for the morning after. We also work with Shake Shack, baking ginger cakes and honeycomb, which is fun. Plus we had the our sourdough starter blessed at Southwark Cathedral (which is just over the road from Borough) before we opened. And we have just started working with some local schools for the kids to come into the bakery and learn to bake.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

The Bread Ahead Baking Book; we are very excited about this one. Plus we have just opened a little Bread Ahead eatery on Old Street.

What gets you excited to get out of bed for work in the morning?

Developing new ideas for the bakery – my latest is sourdough and brown butter doughnuts. Also the teaching side: teaching bread-making to really passionate students at our bakery school.

Bread Ahead London

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few …

Cookery books, hot sauces and kitchenware, like pastry cutters and madeleine trays.

Bread Ahead, Borough Market

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?

My mum’s recipe books, which are four scrapbooks full of handwritten recipes, plus cut outs from old magazines and lots of helpful hints.

Favourite song or album?

Anything from AC/DC.

Your go-to tip for a great bake?

Don’t be scared of a high bake. I love a bit of singe on my bread.

Best ever holiday memory?

To be honest, one of the best was getting married in Las Vegas. Just me, Louise and Elvis! Then having our honeymoon in New Orleans.

Who’s your crush?

Ooh – Nigella Lawson

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home?

Home is London. I love all the amazing places to eat and drink and there is always so much to see and do. But I feel most at home in my garden tending to our vegetable patch.

Your favourite place for coffee?

Don’t do coffee. I am a tea man. Pot of tea at home, thank you.

Best spot for dinner?

The Anchor & Hope. I just love it; great food, great wine and great service. Also one of my final meal selections is one of the starters I had there, the confit rabbit salade nicoise. Lyle’s has some of the best cooking in London, and Black Axe Mangal – wow – amazing food and the music playlist is the best in London (for those about to rock we salute you!).

St John for the the roast bone marrow and parsley salad (need to say more?) and Brasserie Zédel is amazing value for money with lovely food, great service and amazing bread!

Where do you pick up a bargain?

Love a car boot, plus Camden Market and Columbia Road Flower Market.

Best green space?

Love Richmond Park, I grew up just down the road from the park.

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

Cooking Sunday lunch for friends and family or in the summer getting the hot coals on the BBQ with a few cold beers.

If not in London, where would you be?

In the country like Somerset. We’re hopefully buying a small holding down there soon.

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