Royal baker sets up in Sunderland and Seaham

Roger Dickson, who has opened up a new baker's shop in Seaham's Church Street, called 'The Artful Baker'.
Roger Dickson, who has opened up a new baker's shop in Seaham's Church Street, called 'The Artful Baker'.
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A BAKERY has risen again as a businessman who has cooked for royalty brings his skills to the high street.

Roger Dickson first moved to Sunderland 13 years ago to study performing arts and decided to stay on Wearside when he fell in love with a local girl.

But with few acting jobs on offer, he had to look to other ways to pay the bills.

The 31-year-old worked in sales, but discovered his passion for making pastries as he gained experience in London’s gastro pub kitchens.

He also spent time in Switzerland, where he served up cuisine to Prince Andrew and his guests, as well as customers such as Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones.

Now he has launched his own company, with his skills helping fill the menus of some of the region’s top bars and restaurants as well as the bread bins of homes.

His shop, in Church Street, Seaham, is welcoming customers, while a bakery has been set up in a unit in Sunderland to help fulfil orders.

The counter service sees the shutters lifted on the former Peters shop, which closed last year when the company went into administration, and follows on from other bakeries in the same building.

The venture, set up with the help of Sunderland City Council’s business investment team, sees restaurants including the Martino’s chain, D’Aqua and Serendipity in Sunderland, Humbles in Seaham, and Lady Grey’s, The Bridge Tavern, Pleased to Meet You and Lane 7 in Newcastle serve up his bread.

Seven jobs in addition to Roger’s have been created by his Artful Baker business.

Roger, who has set up his company with the support of partner Louise Gill, said: “I’ve always liked Seaham and for the last few years it’s been an up and coming sort of place and there’s lots of activity going on.

“We were looking for somewhere and the people of Seaham are really good.

“This has been a bakery before and again before that – this shop wants to be a bakery.

“Customers have taken to us quite well and it’s been a quiet launch, but we’ve had a lot of people back looking for something else and we’re now starting to get in regulars.”

In addition to the usual loaves, buns, pastries, pasties and artisan versions such as foccacia, rye and soda bread, Roger and his staff are also offering more specialist breads and treats.

They include breads made with black pudding, cheddar and thyme, chilli and paprika and caramelised onion, along with vegetarian Scotch eggs made with chickpeas or potato and cheese.

Roger added: “When you’re making it yourself, it’s healthier and much better than mass produced stuff.

“We’ve had customers who have been ringing round everywhere in the region before they finally found us.

“We’re welcoming more wholesale orders and we’re doing catering as well, and we’re chefs by trade, so we know what they want.”

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