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street man

“I used to work in advertising, I was a copywriter. I just wanted to try something different so I started off on the Portobello Road (a market in Notting Hill, West London) about 12 years ago. I bought 300 ciabatta and was sold out by 11am. No one was selling nice, interesting bread in markets at the time. “It was a slow transition. I’d worked in

restaurants before I worked in advertising because that’s what you do – it’s kind of like being an actor. I was working in Soho which meant that I always ate good stuff and I was always interested in food so I knew what it was all about. “I did them both in parallel for

about a year, with the bread on the weekends, then I suddenly realised that the bread could be a business. It got better and better and I opened other market stalls around London and I eventually made a choice…”


“It’s hard for me to explain what it is too,” laughs Sebastian Vince. We’re standing next to his high tech ‘stall’ that sits on Northcote Road market in Clapham, South London and I’ve just told him that, despite having read so much favourable comment about his operation, it was has hard for me to envision what his set-up actually entailed before I saw it for myself. “You ought to sit next to me at a dinner party,” he adds, “I just say I’m a market trader and leave it at that!” The reason why it’s so hard to pin down

is simple: his business is 100% unique. Built two years ago, it was designed by Sebastian and constructed at a cost of £100,000. “The company who did it built burger vans and things like that, but they’d never done anything like this. The only bespoke thing with those things was the equipment - you could have that oven, or this fridge. With this the counters all pull out and fold in; it’s on hydraulics. There’s nothing like this. “It was a big expenditure, but if you think about it a shopfi t would be more than


Henry Norman speaks to Sebastian Vince about Breadstall, his truly bespoke London-based bakery

that and the rent, because this is a council licence, isn’t nearly as high. It’s expensive but once it’s paid off, it’s paid off.” All very impressive, but we still haven’t

conveyed exactly what “it” is. Standing an impressive 15m in length, his Swiss army knife of a catering contraption holds ovens, mixers and fridges, allowing him to offer enough choice that you could enjoy a street- style three course meal right here on the pavement.

“It is a bakery,” Sebastian explains, “we

have ovens and dough mixes and we do the pizzas, the pies, the sausage rolls, the sandwiches and the baguettes here. We also buy a lot of bread and cakes in, especially on the weekend because of demand, so it’s a mix between our stuff and other people’s stuff.”

All this is a far cry from his introduction

to the business (see box) when he sold bread from a wooden table sitting under a couple of umbrellas. “We tried to make it look like a nice French market,” he says, “but you

Sebastian Vince

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