A Bishop, a bad lad baking things better and a salty dog with new tricks.
Seeing four youngsters devouring sourdough flatbreads, sitting in the sunshine in front of Gloucester Cathedral was the job satisfaction Jack and I needed after a long day of baking. The sourdough flatbreads were piled high with a bean stew made from beans that had been given to us, and topped with a crunchy slaw made from price slashed cabbages and herbs, all finished off with a dollop of sour cream, a splattering of hot sauce, and little strips of crispy bacon. Their plates were cleaned up. The comments were encouraging. And Jack and I couldn't have been happier. An early taste of job satisfaction for a budding baker like Jack and a much welcomed one for a salty ol’ dog like me.
Last Saturday Gloucester Cathedral hosted a football tournament for local youngsters to tie in with the launch of the Football World Cup. Basically, five a-side teams from all over the county knocking a ball about in a large cage inside the cathedral. As a backdrop, an enormous screen live streaming the TV coverage of the football. Ben Preece-Smith, the Diocesan Secretary, came to the launch of The Long Table and invited us to offer food for this event, and here we were.
Jack had been part of the original Long Table team, he came to us from Gloucester Constabulary and told me of his hopes to be a chef. We started our baking day together in my kitchen, milling several kilos of organic Paragon spring wheat, before kneading the dough by hand in batches and resting it for 4-6 hours. The dough was divided into 150g pieces and shaped into round balls. These were then pinned out with a rolling pin into 7” flatbread and baked for 3 minutes at 250ºC in a Chadwick Oven. I didn’t get done until 3am, but loved every moment. To share what I love of baking with someone keen to learn is a privilege. That we are building something new together adds an excitement. Jack spotted that I added the sea salt to a dough already seasoned. I was able to scrape it off the top into the correct autolysing dough, proving again that baking is best as a team effort.
This Football Tournament at Gloucester Cathedral clashed with a sourdough teaching commitment I had. I would have said no, but for Jack, Charlotte and Will’s eager enthusiasm, and my hunger to learn more about how the The Long Table team might establish the principle of self-management.
For this event, the first for The Long Table outside of the Brimscombe hub, by saying yes, I was compelled to get the ingredients for a successful event as right as I could beforehand, and then without any hope of micromanaging, I let go of control and created a space for the emerging team to make their own. And make it their own they certainly did. In the space opened up, the team communicated with each other very well, Gen was able to leave early, judging as they did that once the Long Table and the field kitchen was set up, they had enough people power to make it work. Customers responded really well, and my anxiousness about kids eating wholemeal sourdough flatbreads was laid to rest. At one point, in mid-flow the whole tent blew over knocking over the storage shelf and everything on it, the team, didn't panic, picked themselves and our stuff up and carried on. Quite a blow, but the kind of act-of-God drama that builds team. The highlight for me was seeing Jack bellowing “roll-up, roll-up, only three left” and quite literally selling as we dismantled the tent around him. With a backdrop like the ancient and majestic Cathedral, The Long Tables first outing in the field was a beauty. I learnt more about going it *Teal as a way of doing business and I’m hungrier now than ever, the Diocese learnt more about our work paving the way for more, many people got fed healthy and delicious food, food was saved from being thrown away, Jack got a taste of the bakers life and showed us what a passionate salesman he can be, we all got a taste of how good it feels to be part of a team hungry for a better future.
Feeding change - one bite at a time.
Thank you's + interesting/useful links
Will Mansell - Award winning social enterprise incubator
Charlotte - For being up for it and getting stuck in
Anna Herbert - clarity, wisdom, action, generosity, love
Sue Beattie - for the dented tins of beans
David Wilson - Head farmer at Duchy Home Farm
Wolfgang Mock - Mock Mill
Bishop Rachel - Gloucester Diocese
Dan Chadwick - Chadwick Oven
*Frederic Laloux - Reinventing Organisations - Teal