Belfast Telegraph

Harlequin Patisserie cooks up a new identity with Knead

By Rachel Martin

A traditional family bakery in Co Down has been overhauled and renamed as it passes to the next generation.

Allen and Lovaine Niblock founded the Harlequin Patisserie on High Street in Newtownards, in 1994. But now their son Graeme has bought over the firm and given it a new name - Knead.

Graeme officially began his career as an apprentice aged 17 but has grown up helping with his father's business. He said: "I remember standing on crates to reach the machines, sleeping on top of bags of flour and saving up the pocket money I earned for Lego."

Now 37, Graeme was inspired to revamp the business and bring in more local produce after a visit to a bakery in Waterford.

He's been helped by wife Cheryl, who has taken the lead on finding local suppliers and has introduced Northern Ireland produce such as Erin Grove jam and Passion Preserves.

Meanwhile, Graeme has been testing out new recipes, incorporating some of these into his baked goods.

Graeme recognised a gap in the market in health foods and hopes to some day open a sit-in cafe catering for people with food sensitivities such as gluten intolerance.

Among his creations are sausage rolls made using Passion Preserves chutneys, Hollah caramelised red onion with Cooleeney goats cheese tartlets and Abernethy Butter and brambleberry jam served on scones.

The forward-thinking bakery has also been busy developing low GI and multi-grain recipes.

Graeme said that the associated health benefits and a rise in the popularity of specialist breads means that even people without food intolerances have been picking up the loaves.

He said: "It's becoming mainstream and there's a growing market for it. Customers are always asking for it.

"The thing is when you are taking something out you have got to replace it with something else and it's finding the right thing to do that.

"Quinoa and spelt flour are really taking off. A lot of our loaves are sugar-free too, so will be suitable for diabetics."

He added: "I would love to set up a test bakery in the house so I can play about with more recipes."

Graeme's father also formerly owned the Golden Crumb bakery in Belmont, east Belfast.

The new touches he's incorporated in Knead include large visual displays, wooden shelving, more modern branding and a section dedicated to small local producers.

The couple's two children Ethan (5) and three-year-old Lory are too young to help out in the bakery, Graeme said - but are already showing an interest in baking at home.

Belfast Telegraph