An Eastbourne man has cooked Britain’s best loaf.
Lee Smith, of Poppyseed Bakery in Gildredge Road, won the prestigious title at the Britain’s Best Load Awards for his wholemeal sourdough.
The 50-year-old, who was born and ‘bread’ in Eastbourne, said, “I’m so pleased. I was so nervous.”
Lee, who previously won the competition three years in a row before taking a break to be a judge, said, “I missed competing. I was quite nervous, when you have won it before I feel there’s almost an expectation to do well.
“It was a relief and I was really pleased when they read the name out.”
Lee has been baking for around 35 years and made it to the final three to be a judge for the Great British Bake Off – being pipped to the post by Paul Hollywood.
Like Hollywood, Lee was previously head baker at The Dorchester Hotel in London. He also won at the World Bread Awards in 2017.
So what is the secret to making award-winning bread? “A lot of people can make good bread,” he said, “I have been baking since 1984, but you have got to have the mentality to make it consistently good.
“A lot of people, after that amount of time at this job or any job, it becomes a bit monotonous. But I still look at the bread when it comes out the oven and still feel pleased and proud when it comes out well.
“If you don’t care about it why should anyone else? I think that’s the main criteria for doing well. It seems to work.”
He said, “I still enjoy it. It’s a hard job, it’s long hours, it’s a physical job. If you still listen to the crackle of the crust as it’s cooling down and you are enjoying it, it’s the job for you. It still puts a smile on my face.
“The biggest compliment is when people come back or when they send us a message saying how much they love the product.”
Lee says next year he will go back to being a judge at the Britain’s Best Loaf Awards.