Troels Bendix: Career Profile

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bread

Troels Bendix, founder of The Hungry Guest in Petworth
Troels Bendix, founder of The Hungry Guest in Petworth
Danish-born Troels Bendix holds claim to the rare title of Master Baker. He initially trained as a chef at the Culinary Institute of Denmark before moving to London to work at the Sugar Club in 1999. In 2001, he founded Breads Etcetera, growing from a one-man band to a bakery with its own shop and cafe, supplying top London outlets. 

In 2010, Bendix took on his current role as managing director of Market Town Foods, the parent company of The Hungry Guest Bakery - a wholesale supplier of bread to many outlets in the southeast including The Hungry Guest shop and café in Petworth, West Sussex.


How I got to where I am now: 

I’m a fully qualified chef, trained in Denmark via an apprenticeship. I worked my way up to be in charge of a deli and restaurant, which had a bakery attached to it. And it was there that I caught the bug - it was the first place that I ever saw that made bread in a way that really honoured traditions; no commercial yeast or sour dough products were used.

Then came a moment of insanity. I came to London in early 1999, I worked in restaurants that had bread brought in and, coming from Denmark, where there was a reasonably good bakery on every corner, I just thought the quality of bread was one of the things I really missed.

I started playing around and making my own bread. I'd spent nights in the cellar of Urban Productions, sleeping under the benches and preparing for baking in the morning prior to the chefs coming in, then forcing everyone around me to taste and give me feedback. And all of a sudden I decided that I want to be my own boss and start up my own bakery. 

How I earned the title Master Baker

It’s actually a title that I’ve been labelled with rather than one I achieved through specific training. I just focus on my work, lots of hours of hard work and lots of trial and error, and I guess that’s perceived to be Master Baker. 

My greatest achievement:

I think what I’m involved in now is my greatest achievement. Starting out in a different country was incredibly hard work and looking back, although I could have progressed in many different ways, this has ended up being very successful and it’s physically such a hard job to have, but equally enjoyable.

My biggest challenge:

I guess just the obvious financial stubling blocks that many businesses have to overcome. The good thing is that I’ve had so much support from family and friends I’ve made from arounfd the world. But having a good work ethic, getting in, getting dirty and just getting on with things. I’ve always sticked to my principles of making the best quality possible, there’s no point making shit.

What I love about restaurants and baking:

It’s the endless possibilities, the use of flavour combinations and the satisfaction it gives you when you make people happy. Nothing beats that - you can make people happy through music or architecture, I make food and bread and people come and say ‘this is fantastic’, which is such an uplift.

What I don't like:

There’s an awful lot of red tape. There are rules and regulations that are completely ridiculous. I know they need to be in place, but more and more health and hygiene rules are comning in, and its becoming more and more difficult as a business to understand these rules.

I find health and safety and food safety management systems incredibly tedious and it could be simplified I’m sure.

If I wasn't working in this industry I'd be...

I’m sure my father would have liked to have seen me becoming an architect or an engineer, but I’ve just always loved food. I grew up in a hotel and it’s always been a fascinating industry for me.

My advice for a young entrepreneur entering hospitality:

You need to make absolutely sure that this is the way they want to go. Being a chef is not being Jamie Oliver on television. It’s hard work, it’s gritty and so you have to have a genuine interest in it. There are a fortunate few that make it through to the elite level and appear on tv etc, but that’s not the reality of it. You should really think long and hard about what you actually want to do.

And if you do believe you want to work in this sector, you have to go into it wholeheartedly – it’s not a career that you can just fall back on. People that eat out want to have a great experience, and it’s your job to give that to them.

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