You won’t find the poetic four and twenty blackbirds baked in their pies but over a great cup of organic Havana coffee and a delicious cinnamon morning bun we learned a little about 4&20, Remuera’s organic bakery, run by Deborah Chait and Andy Tse.
Where did the name 4&20 come from?
That name was chosen because it was our son Charlie’s favourite nursery rhyme.
Why did you open your bakery in Remuera?
We were drawn by the great community feeling in Remuera, we loved how people understood and appreciated organics and high quality products. We’re grateful to many people with similar philosophies; Adrian Barkla of New World Remuera, the Jack Lum family business next door to us and Kim Wickstead from Victoria Ave Butchery. It’s also great to see familiar faces from my days at Zarbo in Newmarket. We were really lucky as an old Remuera friend and respected food writer, Lauraine Jacobs, knew us, had tasted our bread, and used all her social media contacts to spread the word. Even before we opened!
What was your vision?
To create products that are delicious from scratch, using quality ingredients without preservatives or additives. Also using organic, free-range and locally-sourced products where possible. We also source different flours and ancient grains including spelt, organic rye and sprouted rye berries for our sourdough bread.
How does 4&20 in Remuera compare with Zarbo all those years ago?
4&20 has begun as a much more focused business but the range seems to grow daily, and I'm not sure how we're going to fit it all in. At Zarbo half the space was a dedicated cafe whereas at 4&20 we have seating for about ten people only. We have a bigger take-out operation in Remuera.
What is it like working as a husband and wife team?
I think working together is easier in some ways and more challenging in others. You never leave work behind but when you're there you know you have your back covered and someone is looking out for you.
What are the challenges with an organic bakery, as opposed to a normal bakery?
Sourcing organic products in New Zealand. They are considerably more expensive than most usual products. Organic flour is more than double the price of regular flour.
Is the bread-making process more complicated, when it’s organic?
Yes. As an unrefined and natural product, flour varies at different times of the year. The ingredients are simple, there are only three – organic flour, organic sea salt and filtered water.
The breadmaking process is also complex. We take a percentage of starter and add flour and water, and leave it for 12 hours, then the bread making begins and the dough is folded and moulded by hand for the next 4 ½ hours, then it’s fermented for 12 hours before baking the following day. Doing this also breaks down the glutens – we’ve found that people with gluten intolerances can happily eat our bread
What are your most popular products?
The sunflower & flaxseed loaf and the 100% spelt breads are very popular, along with our free-range roast chicken and avocado sandwiches, and our berry brioche with French custard.
We have breads available for tasting every day, and we will also slice bread for our customers.
What’s coming up for Christmas?
An English Christmas plum pudding from a recipe that dates back to the 17 century, which we steam in moulds we imported from Sheffield in England, a Sri Lankan spiced Christmas cake and a non-traditional Austrian cake. And of course traditional stollen and gingerbread houses and Christmas tarts.
What do you like most about working in Remuera?
The people in Remuera are just lovely and we are really lucky to have found a spot here that fitted our oven! We get to see a bunch of people daily, weekly and when they run out of bread!
Do you have any future plans for 4&20?
Our next offering will be a range of special occasion birthday and celebration cakes … so watch this space!
You can’t go past 4&20, with the gorgeous flowering plants outside (almost looks like a New York minute) without picking up a sandwich and a coffee while sampling their amazing bread.
4&20 Bakery 3a Clonbern Road, Remuera, Auckland
Ph: 09 529 0307 www.4and20.co.nz
Photography by Vanita Andrews and words by Fiona Wilson