Global Baker Dean Brettschneider, who owns the Baker & Cook bakery chain and new pizzeria Plank, shares his choice spots to eat, shop and unwind
Kiwis would know Dean Brettschneider well – he’s an author, TV personality and famed baker in his home country, but his name will be growing increasingly familiar as his Baker & Cook chain continues to expand here. The brainchild behind the Baker & Spice chain in Shanghai, Dean opened his first Baker & Cook at Hillcrest Road in 2012, after having fallen in love with the Greenwood area.
He shares, “A friend in shipping asked me to come by the Singapore area. We were at Greenwood and I immediately fell in love with the neighbourhood. It’s a nice place to operate in and at that time, there were no artisan bakeries here. To me, New Zealand and Singapore are similar in a way – they’re both young countries with lots of different cultures. And that’s one of the reasons that I decided to set up a business in Singapore. We’re a Singapore business.”
Since then, another three Baker & Cooks have sprouted up – in Opera Estate, Bugis and Chip Bee Gardens. And as a natural progression, the established baker has just opened his sourdough pizza joint at Swan Lake Avenue, offering sourdough based pizzas with both traditional and innovative toppings. The pulled chicken pizza with cranberry compote and camembert cheese is a must-try.
The illustrious 46-year-old, who aptly carries the Global Baker title, operates his international business from Denmark (where his wife lives), but travels frequently to Singapore and New Zealand. And he’s aiming to bring his artisanal bakeries to other corners of the world, including Manila, Sydney and the Middle East.
As if that’s not enough, his 12 books are a trusted resource for keen bakers, and Dean will be hosting a four-part TV show, Kiwi Baker In Singapore, as part of his Kiwi Baker In… series. We managed to catch up with Dean and asked him what he loves most here…
For good food, where do you head to?
My all-time comfort food are the dumplings at Din Tai Fung (visit www.dintaifung.com.sg for locations). The xiao long bao is like a sausage roll! I also like the environment at Pizzeria Mozza (#B1-42/46, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands) – just sitting at the bar… dining is also about the experience. There’s also a little place in Bukit Timah, called Shelter In The Woods (22 Greenwood Avenue). I love the food there too; I look for honest food, from honest chefs.
From the fine dining point of view, I would say it’s Sorrel (21 Boon Tat Street) for me. The chef does some fantastic food there, and the dishes are reasonably priced for Singapore.
As a baker, where would you go for the best bake-ware and ingredients?
Phoon Huat (#01-48 Chip Bee Gardens) is a bit commercial but it’s got some good stuff. You can go there for things like mango puree.
For equipment, the natural choice would be ToTT (at 896 Dunearn Road, and #02-427 Suntec City); but I also like Lemon Zest (#01-80 Chip Bee Gardens). It has a good range of things, including the more quirky, seasonal stuff for occasions like Easter. Sia Huat (7 Temple Street) may be a bit obscure for some, but it’s a huge commercial place where chefs go to get their equipment.
The few moments you get to exercise, what do you do?
I like cycling, especially road biking, and when I get the chance, I head out to the water. It’s the new golf…and, believe it or not, I love cycling in the heat! I often ride with the Australian & New Zealand Association (ANZA) group and many friends of Baker & Cook, so we can grab a coffee afterwards.
Places to cycle in Singapore are limited, so a popular fast ride I do is the Sentosa Loop, which is around 40 km, or the Kranji Loop, about 65 km. Time is limited for me so I prefer to go on hard and short rides and be back in time for the store opening. Bakery is all about mornings.
Where do you like to go to unwind?
I like to head out to Dempsey Hill to walk around and enjoy a nice relaxed wine. This is best done during the week days as there are not so many people around.
You seem to have a love for certain neighbourhoods…
I want to do business in the neighbourhoods – and it’s a challenge as you have to be really good to succeed in such areas. The Greenwood Avenue area in Bukit Timah is obviously one of my favourites. I like the diversity there – the people are well-travelled and can be very demanding. And it’s great that we can have a family of three generations sitting down to enjoy a donut or lamington together.
Chip Bee Gardens at Holland Village drew me in with its nice vibe, while Opera Estate offers that neighbourhood nostalgia I’m after. If I were to choose to live anywhere on this island, I would probably choose the East Coast. It’s so relaxing and away from the craziness of the city centre.
Edited by Barbara Koh, The Finder, July 2015