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Meet the Hither Green self-taught baker who has won five Great Taste awards

A self-taught baker and Hither Green based business owner has won five Great Taste awards <i>(Image: Nic Crilly Hargrave)</i>
A self-taught baker and Hither Green based business owner has won five Great Taste awards (Image: Nic Crilly Hargrave)

A start-up bakery business from south east London that began in the pandemic has taken home five Great Taste Awards after only 16 months in business.

Eddy Sleiman, owner of start-up artisan bakery business Ed Baker, was “completely in shock” after discovering that he had been awarded five Great Taste awards for his creations.

This year Great Taste received 14,195 product submissions from food and drink businesses across the UK vying to receive the highly coveted award.

Ed received three stars for his White Sourdough Bread, a mark which is “rarely awarded” according to the business owner.

News Shopper: Ed's 3 star winning White Sourdough Loaf
News Shopper: Ed's 3 star winning White Sourdough Loaf

Ed's 3 star winning White Sourdough Loaf (Image: Nic Crilly Hargrave)

He received four more awards, including two stars for his Handmade Rum Baba and Wholemeal Sourdough, and one-star awards for his Mushroom Quiche with White Wine and Cheddar and the Onion Quiche with Lancashire Cheese and Jalapeno.

Ed began baking in 2019 to combat the anxiety he was facing from the stresses of working in a fast-paced corporate job.

The baker had already been exploring a possible career change, describing the desire to leave the corporate setting in favour of a career in food or travel.

When Covid hit and lockdown restrictions took effect, Ed began to work on perfecting his craft to eventually start up his own business.

Ed invested £2,500 of his own funds into purchasing books and materials, and turned the living room of his then Greenwich home into a teaching space to learn how to bake.

Ed said: “I was stuck in my flat alone, I repurposed my living room into a small training space and stocked up with flour and things.

News Shopper: Two of Ed's quiches also received one star awards from Great Taste
News Shopper: Two of Ed's quiches also received one star awards from Great Taste

Two of Ed's quiches also received one star awards from Great Taste (Image: Nic Crilly Hargrave)

“I went through a six to seven months trial and error process, until I nailed down my own recipes, and emerged as an artisan baker.

“My specialty is more heritage food, bringing back to life the ways and methods and processes that used to be made by our ancestors and our grandparents.”

Following on from his success, Ed started selling to shops and bars across south east London, before securing a spot to sell at Blackheath Farmers Market after his baked goods were named as “premium.”

Ed began to receive many positive Google reviews, and as his popularity grew, he was appointed a Real Bread Campaign ambassador, raising awareness of the issues surrounding additives used in mass produced breads and the benefits of using alternatives from them.

Following the success of the start-up business, Ed acquired a commercial space in January 2022, selling to wholesalers and selling at food markets in south east London.

Ed said: “At the time I started in Catford Food Market, I started with 10 loaves in the first couple of markets.

“I'm now taking around 70 to 80 loaves with me.

“So it's on the increase, people are loving the products.

“That encouraged me to push the samples forward to Great Taste.“ Ed submitted his products to Great Taste in March and this week he received the news that five of his products had received Great Taste Awards.

 

Speaking on his success, Ed said: “I'm still under the cloud, I'm still overwhelmed.

“Someone who's self-taught to win three stars, which a lot of chefs are texting to say, like, ‘How the hell did you do that?’ “Great Taste phoned me to say I had won three stars, but they didn't mention anything about the other four products.

“When I opened the dashboard and then I discovered I had won five awards I was in tears.

“I can't believe it, I'm self-taught, I didn't study it, this is just a passion I'm doing, and it's paid off.”

Ed is currently residing at Hither Green, and his baked goods can be bought at the bakery at 38-40 Campshill Road by pre-order or for walk-in customers on Fridays and Saturdays.

Ed also sells at Catford Food Market on the last Sunday of each month and will be offering a delivery service in the future.

News Shopper: Ed Baker now sells regularly at south east London food markets and events to customers
News Shopper: Ed Baker now sells regularly at south east London food markets and events to customers

Ed Baker now sells regularly at south east London food markets and events to customers (Image: Nic Crilly Hargrave)

When asked what he’d advise to others looking to pursue their passion, Ed answered: "When you dare and brave it and make the move, and just unleash yourself from what was causing your struggle, you'll discover a completely different world.

“And it will work, because your passion is there, it's a decision you've made and it's about recognising that."