Coming from the humble 60sqm Elsternwick bakery he’s occupied since 2016, Russell told Broadsheet he knows exactly what to do with the almost-seven-times-bigger premise in Caufield North: bake more bread.
Baker Bleu moves Caufield loaves are available at Meatsmith Fitzroy and St Kilda, and it supplies some of Melbourne’s top restaurants, including Attica and Cummulus Inc, and is famous for its crusty sourdough, rye and white loaves, and sourdough baguettes and bagels—bread so beloved it was often running out before 9am on Sundays.
The look may have changed—while Baker Bleu hasn’t previously had signage, the entrance to the new bakery features a swanky new logo by design agency Studio Tuntun—but the bread is still familiar, fresh, and now plentiful as the enormous tailor-made German oven allows Baker Bleu to produce double the quantity it used to.
A well as expanding the bread-making, the extra space has meant that Russell can also expand the provedore section, which stocks Tasmanian honey, Jam Lady jam, Oritz anchovies, Mount Zero olive oil and more perfect accompaniments to top the freshly baked bread, with a fridge to stock butter and wine also on the table.
Instead of baking through the night, the larger space means that all bread-making now occurs during the day, with the bakers starting at 6am. From 11am, customers can watch through the window as they expertly prepare and shape the dough before it’s transferred to the proofing room to cool and ferment overnight.
The big new oven features a conveyor-belt loader, making things easier for the baker, and six shelves with two varying temperatures, which Russell says has taken some getting used to.
“We’re accidentally baking croutons,” he laughs.
“We give all this to Meatsmith at the moment. They use it for their schnitzels.”
But with the extra capacity for supply is a growing demand, with Russell saying they already need another delivery vehicle and a forklift to move flour. He hopes to eventually install another oven and increase production by 10.
Baker Bleu closed its original Elsternwick bakery in September. With a 15-year lease on the new premises, Russell anticipates the bakery will continue to evolve.
“The most important thing is we have extra bread here now.”