Ex-Pontypool teacher bakes treats for people with food allergies

Rhys Thomas, former teacher turned baker and produces gluten and lactose free products. Pictured is Rhys at work in Pontypool making Welsh Cakes (3411091)

Rhys Thomas, former teacher turned baker and produces gluten and lactose free products. Pictured is Rhys at work in Pontypool making Welsh Cakes (3411091)

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A FORMER school teacher has turned to baking on a personal quest to create more products for people with food allergies

Rhys Thomas, 34, taught design technology, which included cooking, at West Monmouth School in Pontypool for five years.

He explained that cooking was his specialism having started at a young age helping out at his mother’s catering business, which prepared buffets for functions.

He said: “The idea of starting my own bakery started about eighteen months ago when my dad was diagnosed with coeliac disease and we soon realised that there wasn’t much in the way of sweet food.

“So I thought I could bridge a gap in the market and decided to take the plunge and become my own boss.”

Going from catering to food manufacturing was a learning curve for him, but he said he relished the challenge.

He acquired a unit in New Inn and set about designing a purpose built kitchen and began working with The Food Centre Wales in West Wales to produce Gluten and Lactose free products.

Mr Thomas, from New Inn, said: “Coming from a cookery teaching background, coming up with new recipes was something I really enjoyed and the business allowed me to go back to basics and keep on perfecting recipes until I was happy.”

Starting with a Welsh Cake, that took 29 recipes to get to the final product, Mr Thomas has now created eight products that include Carrot and Walnut Cake, Coffee Cake, Victoria Sponge, Sticky Toffee and Date Pudding, Chocolate Muffin, and Banana and Walnut Loaf Cake.

Seven month ago, Bakestone Bakery, started serving the steam puddings, muffins and cakes to companies, wishing to sell gluten and lactose products to their customers.

He said: “I do miss the children but running my own business is completely different and even though I work more hours a week, I get a greater sense of satisfaction.

“December was a very busy month and the company is definitely on the up.”

His aim for the next 12 months is to grow the business beyond its current client base, between Cardiff and Monmouthshire, to Swansea and Bristol.

He also hopes to hire staff so that he can take more time developing new products and marketing the business.

For more information visit www.bakestonebakery.co.uk call 01495 524435 or e-mail hello@bakestonebakery.co.uk

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