Belated congrats on winning the ‘New Business’ category at the Cardiff Life Awards earlier this year! How did it feel to win?
It was an amazing feeling but also a huge surprise. We felt as though we were still in the middle of our opening period - and amongst so many other great businesses - just didn't think we stood a chance. When our name was announced, it was just such a great thrill. Now we just have to concentrate on living up to the honour!
What was it about your year/nomination that clinched it, do you think?
I think what really helped was how enthusiastic our customers have been right from the start - their support really helped spread the word, and got us off to a great start. I also think we were bringing something new to the city - and that really helped us stand out. I could never have anticipated the warm welcome we received. It really has been incredible - not just from the residents of Canton and Pontcanna (who have been wonderful), but from people who’ve travelled from all over to visit.
We love how you describe Brød as ‘a little taste of Denmark, in the heart of Cardiff’ – as a bakery/café, what makes Brød special?
At its heart, it’s a simple idea really - traditional Danish baking, great coffee & tea, and a cosy atmosphere - together it creates what we call ‘hygge'.
What inspired you to start Brød?
Since moving to the UK in the late 1990s, I’ve always been disappointed at the quality of what passes for Danish pastries. I felt I needed to set the record straight. A Dane will do anything for a proper wienerbrød - and perhaps starting a bakery was taking things to an extreme, but it just felt the perfect combination; one part opportunity, one part national duty!
The reaction to the bakery since you opened late last year has been immense – did you expect such a fantastic reception?
The community here is lovely and hugely supportive. As a small business our local customers are key and we really have learned a lot from listening to their feedback and suggestions; we’ve changed opening hours, added an extra days baking and made a lot of small changes based on their input.
You’re right on the border of Pontcanna/Canton – as a business, why is the area so important to you?
When I first moved to Cardiff, I lived in both Canton and Pontcanna. I hope that they feel the bakery adds something valuable to their community and that we can be a little haven of comfort in their busy lives.
Who has been the main influence on your career?
My two grandfathers - one was a baker in Copenhagen and the other was a blacksmith. They where both extremely hard grafters and loved working with their hands. I’ve always struggled with dyslexia, so I knew from a young age that I wanted to find a way of making a living by using my hands rather than a job based around reading and writing.
On the night of the Cardiff Life awards my parents were visiting from Denmark and amongst al the excitement of winning they also presented me with a very special gift. It was a small figure one grandad had made for the other’s 70th birthday, a little metal matchstick man holding a rolling pin. It lives in the bakery now - next to our Cardiff Life award - and is a constant reminder of the way they both inspired me. I hope they’d both be very proud.
What are your signature pastries/breads?
I think our Spandauer and Snegls battle it out for number one spot…
What's new at Brød?
There are quite a few things in the pipeline. We’re partnering with a few other local independents to develop a ‘supper club’ where we’ll all bring a different speciality to the dinner table(Cocktails and Spandauer, anyone?). And with an eye on summer, we’ve just started selling soft-ice (ice cream). It’s another Danish favourite - and should see us through any potential heatwave (it also makes a mean Affogato - not strictly Danish - but definitely European!). To continue the summer feel, we’ll be going alfresco with a stand at this years Waterloo Gardens Fete on July 17. Plenty going on!
Which other local businesses do you admire?
I have huge admiration for anyone who sets up as an independent. I’m particularly grateful to Kasim Ali at Waterloo Tea for all his help and support; he and his business has been a huge inspiration, and he makes it look so easy, when it really is not!
The Cardiff Life Awards 2017 will be held on March 16 2017 at Cardiff's City Hall.