In front of a former 24-hour Leach Highway lunch bar – faded Coke billboard and all – a small crowd has gathered, good-naturedly waiting for Everyday Bread to open. Many of the group are mothers and their children, fresh from school pick-up and negotiating what they’re going to buy. Nearby, a family in a black four-wheel-drive is staking out the joint. A middle-aged man wearing thongs and a loose-fitting Adidas jacket joins the small line out the front.
Finally, at a few minutes past 3:30pm, the store’s white roller doors rise to reveal Everyday Bread’s combined bakery and shopfront along with Thomas Radford, one of its owners. Smiley, tall, polite: Radford is exactly what any operation might want in a business front man. He’s standing behind a nightclub-style barrier rope at the front door, explaining breads, processing payments and bagging up still-warm baguettes, buns and sourdough loaves that have been baked through the morning and early afternoon. The whole scene feels utterly wholesome and is the sort of set-up I wish every neighbourhood had access to.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity in Perth for people to open up and do something a bit different,” says Zachary Flemming, Radford’s partner in the business.
Although every person employed by Everyday Bread helps bake, Flemming is the head baker who oversees the entire operation. He got his first taste of the baking lifestyle at age 16 in Armidale, the country town in New South Wales where he grew up, and rapidly progressed from there, spending time in bakeries in Coffs Harbour, Sydney, Melbourne and even Korea before coming to Perth.
Although Flemming is coy about talking about previous workplaces (“I don’t want to name-drop: this isn’t about me or the places I’ve worked, but about getting good bread into the hands of more people”) watching him cut dough, flour benches and shape loaves suggests his hands have been in contact with plenty of wheat and water over the years. Eating his bread confirms it.
The baguette is crunchy on the outside, cotton-wool-like on the inside and delicious all over (Flemming: “Baguettes should be somewhat sweet and cereal-like in taste. A lot of people liken a good baguette taste to that of Special K”); the sourdough loaves sport terrific chew and flavour; while squishy hot cross buns nailed the balance between sweet and spice. (I have six stashed in the freezer ready for emergency deployment throughout the year.)
Although Everyday’s set-up is best described as simple – Radford, Flemming and friends of friends did a lot of the renovation and construction work themselves ahead of the store’s opening in January – management is happy to spend money where it counts, namely on flour. Like many discerning bakeries, Everyday Bread sources its stone-ground, wholegrain flour from Wholegrain Milling in Gunnedah, New South Wales. According to Flemming, stone-ground, wholegrain flour offers more nutrition and taste than industrially farmed flour and he’s committed to getting people to eat more of it – by stealth, if he has to.
“Sneakily, I’ve been putting as much wholegrain flour in the bread [as possible] while still keeping it light and palatable like white bread,” says Flemming. “It’s about finding that perfect equilibrium of having enough wholegrain flour to bring the flavour without making the bread too dense.”
For now, the mix of bread products is split evenly between sourdough and yeasted breads. Between Monday and Thursday, the bakery focuses on its core range but from Friday to Sunday, stretches its legs with specialty products such as rye loaves or fugasse, tear-and-share breads that Flemming hopes more people get into. Further plans for the bakery include introducing coffee and takeaway sandwiches (in a former life, Radford owned Third Wheel in South Freo) as well as steadily expanding the bakery’s range.
73 Leach Highway, Willagee
0457 903 449