“We don’t ever lose sight of the integrity of how we started.”
It’s a humble story of passion and dedication. A tale of two boys and their father, and the rise towards artisan baking excellence.
Inside the industrial chic décor with flood lighting, aluminium piping from the ceiling and a feature wall of photographs commemorating the humble beginnings of a family run operation, guests were gathered for the launch of the new Sonoma HQ, a café and bakery occupying 2800 square metres in Alexandria.
Renowned chefs such as Matt Moran of Aria, Giovanni Pilu of Pilu at Freshwater, Armando Percuoco of Buon Ricordo, notable people in the food industry such as providore Simon Johnson, Adam Liaw of Masterchef and invited guests attended the launch on the evening of Wednesday 22 June 2011.
Chef Matt Moran and Andrew Connole
Chef Alessandro Pavoni of Ormeggio at the Spit
Adam Liaw, Masterchef Season 2 Winner
Guests were treated on arrival with canapés such as chicken, walnut and tarragon finger sandwiches, cream of celery soup with truffle oil and sourdough bruschetta with mushrooms, goats cheese and pesto. Later in the evening, almond madeleines, lemon tartlets and chocolate madeleines were served with coffee from Single Origin Roasters specifically blended for Sonoma.
Donny Goodmac Chardonnay 2009 and Donny Goodmac Shiraz 2008, Fat Yak Beer
Donny Goodmac wines and Fat Yak beer were plentiful while Mr Glass, the DJ, provided entertainment with funky tunes.
Red wine and artisan bread
Pepe Saya Cultured Butter and Yea Vintage Club Cheddar Cheese
With the formal part of the evening underway, Stuart Gregor, Director of Liquid Ideas introduced Andrew Connole, Founder and Director of Sonoma who took us on a nostalgic journey of humble beginnings.
Stuart Gregor (Director of Liquid Ideas) and Andrew Connole (Founder and Director of Sonoma)
The dream began in the town of Bellata,50 km north of Narrabriin NSW where Andrew’s great grand parents ran the Busy Bee general store. His father, who had frequently spent time in the adjoining bakery, decided later in 1997 that he wanted to make bread and restored the old bakery and called upon Andrew who was in USA to let him know of his plans.
Stuart Gregor and Andrew Connole
Upon returning from California with a small batch of sourdough starter, Andrew founded Sonoma, naming it after the region where he learned from artisan bakers, even though his father was doubly sure, Irish heritage to the fore, that they should be making Italian-style bread.
Dion Cohen (L) and Emma Cohen (R) of Single Origin Roasters
For the two years that followed, Andrew and his brother Christian drove 540km from Terrigal to Bellata every Thursday to mix, prepare and bake 300 loaves overnight and then repeat the drive back on Friday. With their father, they delivered the loaves on Saturdays to cafés in Sydney and Paddington Markets.
Photographic history of Sonoma
From that early commitment, Sonoma has grown to supplying leading Sydney restaurants such as Quay, est., Sepia, Buon Ricordo and Tetsuya’s. With cafés in Bondi, Paddington, Glebe and Waterloo, the new Sonoma HQ café serving Single Origin Coffee, has Head Chef Tiffany Harras at the helm has a 50-seat capacity and is set to cater for on-site events.
Sonoma Bakery Photo Tour
One of the highlights of the evening was a guided tour of the bakery where full production was in progress. Groups of ten people were led through the bread making process after following strict regulations that include the wearing of hairnets and thorough washing of hands.
The setting was familiar for those who have watched a recent MasterChef episode where a baking challenge was set for the contestants.
Guests in hairnets
Dough making in progress, using organic flour and filtered water
Dough is worked on natural board table
Becky, our tour guide, showing the various bread baskets
Various shapes and sizes of bread proofing baskets
Dough going into oven
Bread is baked in the ovens
Bread slides out of oven chute
Piping chocolate madeleines
Almond madeleines fresh out of the oven
Selection of artisan Sonoma Breads
Meanwhile, in the café, the crowd has thinned in numbers allowing an opportunity to mingle and enjoy Sonoma’s hospitality.
Simon ‘Freckles’ Lee and Paul Aramini
Andrew Connole and Stuart Gregor
L to R – Sam Boughton, Glen ‘Bigger than Bindi’ Wheeler, Simon Lee, Irene Connole
Irene and Andrew Connole
L to R – Rod Cannon (Crackerjack Plumbing), Becky Bowcock (Sonoma), Simon Lee (Simon Lee Constructions)
Stuart Gregor with Irene and Andrew Connole
Sonoma Crew (L to R): Glen, Lars, Deni, Kay, Marli
Single Origin Roasters Crew (L to R): Charles Cameron, Ivor Cohen, Joseph Cutcliffe, Ed Strachan, Shoji Sasa
Single Origin Roasters crew taking over in the bakery
DJ – Mr Glass (Bespoke Audio)
The evening came to a close with an impromptu tap dancing performance by Charles Cameron.
Tap Dancing by Charles Cameron – Guests outside the Alexandria premises
Of the many highlights of the evening, there was a standout moment: the smell of freshly-baked bread during the bakery tour.
Sonoma Bakery HQ
32-44 Birmingham Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
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