Born and bred baker Lee is tops

Lee Smith
Lee Smith

A baker from Eastbourne has been awarded Britain’s Best Loaf at the Bakers’ and Butchers’ Autumn Fair.

Lee Smith, who lives in Princes Road and owns the Bexhill Farm Kitchen, won the title with his cumin and chickpea sourdough, originally produced for a Persian restaurant.

He picked up his award after the Autumn Fair in Harrogate recently.

Forty-five-year-old Lee, who went to Bishop Bell School, said, “It feels fantastic to win. It’s surprising but I’m really, really pleased. Obviously, you enter it wanting to win, but I love just looking at other types of bread and getting ideas.

“I would definitely recommend other bakers to enter the competition, even if it’s just to look at other people’s loaves.”

Lee also won the Innovation category with his sourdough, as well as the White Loaf category for his seeded bloomer.

Lee started his career as a baker and pastry chef in 1984 with an apprenticeship with Cliff Bennett at Saffron Patisserie in Eastbourne in 1984, combined with studies at Brighton Catering College.

After three years he moved on to work for Sigi Bienz at Cavendish Bakery to learn the bread side of the trade. In 1997 he left Eastbourne to work as head baker at the Dorchester Hotel in London and later the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel.

He has also had placements at the Savoy Hotel in London and Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland.

Four years ago Lee had a call from a production company asking him to interview for a new show on BBC 2.

Lee said, “I had the interview and then a two hour screen test in my bakery but in the end the role went to Paul Hollywood, the show was the Great British Bake Off.

“I am just glad that the job went to someone who has put in the graft over the years and actually know what they are talking about but it still would of been nice if it was me though. “

Lee and wife Kirsty bought the Bexhill bakery in 2003.