Sonoma Baking Company HQ Launch in Alexandria and Bakery Tour

“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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria

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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch 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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Chef Matt Moran and Andrew Connole

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Chef Alessandro Pavoni of Ormeggio at the Spit

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Alexandria
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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Alexandria
Red wine and artisan bread

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch AlexandriaSonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Pepe Saya Cultured Butter and Yea Vintage Club Cheddar Cheese

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria

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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Alexandria Launch
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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
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.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Guests in hairnets

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Dough mixers

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Dough making in progress, using organic flour and filtered water

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Dough is worked on natural board table

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Becky, our tour guide, showing the various bread baskets

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch AlexandriaSonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Various shapes and sizes of bread proofing baskets

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Rising dough

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Dough going into oven

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Bread is baked in the ovens

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Bread slides out of oven chute

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Spacious interior

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Piping chocolate madeleines

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Almond madeleines fresh out of the oven

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Selection of artisan Sonoma Breads

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria

Meanwhile, in the café, the crowd has thinned in numbers allowing an opportunity to mingle and enjoy Sonoma’s hospitality.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Simon ‘Freckles’ Lee and Paul Aramini

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Andrew Connole and Stuart Gregor

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
L to R – Sam Boughton, Glen ‘Bigger than Bindi’ Wheeler, Simon Lee, Irene Connole

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Irene and Andrew Connole

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
L to R – Rod Cannon (Crackerjack Plumbing), Becky Bowcock (Sonoma), Simon Lee (Simon Lee Constructions)

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Stuart Gregor with Irene and Andrew Connole

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Sonoma Crew (L to R): Glen, Lars, Deni, Kay, Marli

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Single Origin Roasters Crew (L to R): Charles Cameron, Ivor Cohen, Joseph Cutcliffe, Ed Strachan, Shoji Sasa

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
Single Origin Roasters crew taking over in the bakery

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch Alexandria
DJ – Mr Glass (Bespoke Audio)

The evening came to a close with an impromptu tap dancing performance by Charles Cameron.

Sonoma Bakery HQ Launch AlexandriaSonoma Bakery HQ Alexandria
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
www.sonoma.com.au

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

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Sonoma Baking Company HQ Launch in Alexandria and Bakery Tour was last modified: December 20th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

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Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.

13 Comments:

  1. Breaking bread in Australia RT @Gourmantic: Sonoma Baking Company HQ Launch in Alexandria and Bakery Tour http://bit.ly/j5l4Qf

    This comment was originally posted on twitter.

  2. Looks like it was a good night! I enjoyed the background story as much as the photos.

    Great review as always, Ms G!

  3. @foodloverkathy @Gourmantic Kathy Sonoma bread is fantastic, having eaten it many times.

    This comment was originally posted on twitter.

  4. @CGLawyers From @Gourmantic ‘s photos the bread does look good…I like the California name, too.

    This comment was originally posted on twitter.

  5. I love getting behind the scenes of places like the bakery. Looks like a very fun night, with everyone letting a bit loose as the night wore on. :)

    • There’s something about dough and the smell of bread that makes you feel good all over, and that’s how it was during the bakery tour. It was a great evening, and the tap dancing was a lot of fun to catch on our way out!

  6. Great coverage of momentous event, I love that you included the background story of Sonoma….as a family friend of the Connoles I remember when they first started going out the bakery in Bellata every week. I just wish that Kerry, Andrew & Christian’s dad, could have seen how amazingly successful they’ve been.

    • Thank you for the kind comment, Genevieve :) It was a pleasure to learn about the Connole family and the passion that started it all.

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