Interview with Eddy Sleiman from Ed Baker
As this year’s business awards open to the public for voting, we caught up with Eddy to talk sourdough, Great Taste and the importance of community support.
Tell us a bit about your business
I’ve been described as ‘sourdough obsessed’.
I’m passionate about, and love, what I do. It must be love - I get out of bed at 2am to start work!
I make and bake my bread on-site daily, using traditional methods and the best quality ingredients. It’s one of the reasons I was eligible to be a Real Bread Campaign ambassador.
My products are mainly British and French heritage food, with some influences from my Mediterranean background. As well as bread, I also offer a range of quiches, pies and patisserie.
I’m lucky to have a loyal customer base. Their support and positive reviews are so important to me as, being a small business owner, it’s all about word of mouth.
I’m based at my shop on Campshill Road but you’ll also find me at local food markets including Catford Food Market, which is on the last Sunday of every month.
When did you start the bakery and what inspired you?
I founded Ed Baker during the pandemic, after leaving a stressful corporate job.
When the world went into lockdown, I bought recipe books, stocked up with flour, sold all my furniture and converted my living room into a training space. It took six or seven months of trial and error to perfect the recipe for my signature white loaf.
My ethos was always to create food that is good for you, using the very best ingredients.
Sans Store in Forest Hill were my first customers and the rest, as they say, is history.
You’ve recently won five Great Taste Awards – tell us about that
I entered five categories expecting nothing but hoping for the best. There were around 14,000 entries this year and three stars were given to under 2% of businesses so this was huge. My white sourdough won three stars. I also won two stars for my Rum Baba and Wholemeal Sourdough, and one-star awards for both quiches. Stars across the board! I couldn’t believe it.
You also won your category at last year’s Mayor of Lewisham Business Awards – how did that feel?
I didn’t even realise I’d been nominated - the first I heard was when the Council called to tell me. I was over the moon! When the public vote started, I added the sticker to my website and did a bit of light campaigning, but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my customers. So I was shocked and elated to be announced the winner of the best new business. It made all that blood, sweat, tears and early mornings worthwhile.
Has winning the award been good for your business?
It’s been a great boost for business. I saw my footfall increase around 40% during the
public vote and after the win. There were so many new faces coming through the door who said they’d heard about me because of the award so I knew there was a direct link. The extra business meant I was able to hire two employees over Christmas. One is from Lewisham College which runs specialist catering courses.
The public vote for this year’s business awards is now open. Why is it important people vote?
For me, it felt like an approval from the community that my business is important.
Voting for your favourite local businesses is a huge motivation for the people behind them.
Running a small independent business is tough. Often we may not be paying ourselves and/or we’re working long hours, but knowing that the locals believe in you is everything.
Here's where you can find Ed Baker
38-40 Campshill Road, Lewisham SE13 6QT on Fridays and Saturdays, from 8am – 7pm
Street food and farmers markets:
- Lewisham Food Market – first Sunday of every month
- Blackheath Farmers Market – third Sunday of every month
- Catford Food Market – last Sunday of every month
Ed Baker has just been announced as one of this year’s short-listed businesses. See the full list of finalists and vote for your favourites.
We spoke to Eddy Sleiman in September 2023.