As a third generation of bakers in the family, Brent Hughs spent his childhood in bakeries. From his apprenticeship in his father’s bakery to running supermarket bakeries, sales repping for suppliers, and working in plant bakeries, Hughes became owner and head baker of The Grumpy Baker in Hamilton.
Hughes has always enjoyed the creativity that baking allows and is passionate about traditional baking methods and sourdough bread.
“I get a kick out of turning simple ingredients into something special that people can then enjoy together.”
With his son, a fourth generation of Hughes family bakers, in charge of making their famous Hamilton pies, Hughes’ other kids help during school holidays and weekends. As his wife pitches when she can, The Grumpy Baker is very much a family-run business.
Hughes’ approach to baking is old school. The bakery’s namesake came from Hughes being called grumpy by colleagues, family members, and bosses when he lost patience with production not reaching its highest potential. Described as classic and done well, Hughes’ baking approach is quality baking with something for everyone.
Hughes has noticed the market turning its attention to more hand-crafted, quality products. As his team work to cater for emerging trends, Hughes is humbled by the positive feedback and support from their customers.
“We are also noticing how keen people are for the transparency of being able to see the food they will eat being made,” Hughes explained. “They like to be a part of the process, and in fact, one of our most popular pie flavours was developed in collaboration with one of our passionate foodie customers.”
One of their most popular baked goods is the classic Steak and Cheese Pie, and it always flies out of the door in sales. With quality ingredients and taking the time to let it become something special, Hughes emphasises the value in baking simple and well.
As The Grumpy Baker continues to grow, short-term goals for Hughes are increasing production capacity and spreading the knowledge of making bread using traditional methods to his team.
“Longer term – we are just enjoying the ride so far.”