“We've been working on so many things but this week it finally feels like it's all falling into place”, says Hazel Powell, 31. “It’s the mad final push to get things open”.
This chef is opening her exciting new business, Baern, on March 24, along with her friend and business partner, Giacomo Pesce, 33.
Their new venue is situated at Bowhouse, where they have some permanent businesses, but also run monthly market weekends. The first spring edition of this popular event, which will have a New Beginnings theme, is on March 12 and 13, when Baern will have an experimental soft opening.
From the official launch date onwards, they’ll be open weekly from Thursday to Sunday, offering regular bread-making workshops and pop-up dinners, as well as a menu of hyper-local and seasonal brunch and lunch dishes that are influenced by the estate’s produce.
For example, there will be sausage rolls featuring Butchery at Bowhouse meat and the bread will contain Scotland the Bread’s flour, which is milled in Unit 8, which is just a few metres away. There will also be “loads of lovely veggies from East Neuk Market Garden”.
At the moment, they’ve supplied Powell and Pesce with a selection of brassicas, radicchio, winter greens and rainbow chard, which they’re turning into an “allotment pasty”, to be served with a large dollop of Katy Rodgers Crowdie. “Hopefully it’ll be delicious,” says Powell, who trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland.
They’re also promising giant focaccia sandwiches and some very special sounding sourdough chocolate chip cookies.
Their coffee is sure to be decent, as it’s courtesy of Edinburgh’s excellent newcomer Modern Standard, though they also hope to have a few guest roasts from Fife on rotation. Expect cakes and pastries that are as seasonal as the savouries. You can give them a whirl at the soft opening.
“This weekend we've got rhubarb, tarragon and brown butter blondie and a blood orange hazelnut rosemary cake,” says Powell. “We’re never going to have a vast selection, but a small offering that will change weekly. We’ll also eventually have deli items like pickles and chutneys”.
If you’ve been to Bowhouse before, you’ll be able to find Baern in the slot that used to house baker Jess Rose Young, who has recently moved to London. Powell met Rose Young while they were both working in the kitchen at Ballintaggart in Highland Perthshire.
“Jess had been doing a pop up at Bowhouse and I helped her with bits and bobs and had been over to visit. I just totally fell in love with the space - just the produce and location. From the cafe you can look out onto the wheat fields and that's what we're going to make bread with,” says Powell, who has now permanently moved from Glasgow to Fife. “It’s an idyllic place if you’re a chef. You're five minutes from the sea, so you can collect seaweed for recipes. It was just a dream opportunity”.
Since they're going to be permanent residents, Powell and Pesce have transformed the space.
They’ve expanded the kitchen, and built a wooden island for shaping bread, so people can watch the loaves, which will eventually be on display in the window, being kneaded and shaped. There’s a wood-fired oven and an open kitchen, and they took a huge chunk of wall down in this converted barn, so there’s now a “massive picture window” that takes advantage of the view.
“We just want to really capitalise on the light in the cafe and have a nice open airy space,” says Powell. “And we're working with Bowhouse’s Keeping the Plot flowers to bring the outside in so it feels very natural”.
As far as division of labour between the pair goes, Powell will be head chef and Pesce, who has a background in science but has also worked at The Grange and Twelve Triangles in Edinburgh, is in charge of baking.
“I was head chef at the Fhior Garden Cafe when Giacomo came on as sous chef. I think we instantly realised we had the same sort of ethos and a big dream for what we would do with a bakery,” says Powell. “We do a lot together but we’ve sort of split tasks so he's going to look after the bread and woodfired oven aspect of the cafe and I’ll look after the brunch and lunch side”.
There are already a few events in the pipeline. Futtle, the cider makers at Bowhouse, who have an onsite taproom and record shop and share a courtyard with Baern, will be teaming up with them for a few summer happenings that may involve pizza and booze. They’re also hoping to invite Rose Young back from London for a few pop-up dinners.
It seems that Fife is the hip place to be at the moment.
“Definitely. I mean, we're definitely not the first young people to come and open a business here. It doesn't feel like that”, says Powell. “There are people in Anstruther in the cider shop, Aeble. Tom and Connie that run the East Neuk Market Garden are sort of our age. There seems to be a definite rejuvenation of the food scene that feels very exciting and electric”.
Unit 10, Bowhouse, St Monans, East Neuk, Anstruther, www.bowhousefife.com
For more information on Baern, follow them on Instagram @baern_cafe