As well as sourdough, several other artisan loaves line the shelves ofthe Food Co bakery. Ciabatta, Plaasbrood, Seed and Challah loaves are baked using 100% stone ground flour and time honoured techniques. “We use traditional slow fermentation,” explains Jean, “to extract the maximum nutrition from the grain”. The former yacht skipper is obsessed by the quality of his ‘real’ bread. “We refuse to compromise on the cost or the quality of our ingredients,” says Jean. Handmade bread focusses on the quality of its ingredients; high-quality whole grain flour sourced from farmers with whom the baker has a personal relationship. The philosophy at Food Co is uncomplicated. ‘Simplicity, health and moderation are our cornerstones’, says baker, Jean Rossouw. He and his wife, chef Lizelle, launched their bakery and restaurant at the corner of Fourth Street and Courtney Road in 2016. Four years later, the Food Co team has expanded and moved the bakery across the road. The café is easy to find; follow the nutty aroma of freshly baked bread!
The Food Co duo are responsible for the birth of a new superpower in George; the Sourdough Loaf! This leavened bread found its origins in Ancient Egypt and is thought to predate many early metals. The sharp aroma, tangy open crumb, chewy texture and crisp crust are hallmarks of this superfood loaf.
The use of additives, preservatives and sugar in commercially baked products has been linked to allergies and intolerances. However, Jean and Lizelle find these problems are absent in their traditional sourdough bread. Customers with wheat and gluten sensitivities report no issues with their preservative free loaf. Jean explains that the wild yeast and lactobacillus cultures in the sourdough starter predigest the wheat during its 22 hour fermentation period. The microscopic communities of probiotic life are an essential component of truly amazing bread. They govern the break down of proteins in the wheat germ, develop flavour, provide natural leaven and improve taste and texture. This makes their sourdough more nutritious and easily digestible than commercial supermarket sliced breads. In addition, the rye added to the sourdough helps to regulate blood sugar and prevent diabetes.
Further transformation happens when Lizelle gets her hands on the loaves. The chef’s background in fine dining is inspiring, having trained in three of the top ten restaurants in South Africa. However, Lizelle’s childhood dream was always to own her own bakery. She now spends her early mornings test driving new creations for their café. Her aim is to complement the bakery’s loaves with a range of healthy and unpretentious dishes. “We spent ten amazing years travelling the world, preparing food for billionaires on yachts,” explains Lizelle. “No matter where we travelled; Tahiti, Ireland, New Zealand, or Italy,” she claims, “the best food had one common theme; absolute simplicity.”
“I want to go right back to the basics with the food we prepare and serve,” Lizelle says. “I want people to come in, just to taste the best bread in town”. And each of the breads are available to taste on the café’s paired down menu. The Plaasbrood is slathered with farm butter and served warm from the oven. The Ciabatta can be sampled with Lizelle’s homemade strawberry jam. The seed loaf is perfect for a peanut butter and honey snack, with a steaming flat white. Several breakfast options are available, including a double smoked bacon and poached egg open sandwich. Cinnamon rolls topped with an orange cream cheese frosting are available from Tuesday to Thursday.
There are no shortcuts in the Food Co kitchen; fresh food is sourced directly from local farmers and makes it to the plate with the minimum interference. Meanwhile, the Rossouws continue to scrutinise the quality of their dough. “For us,” Jean says, “the most difficult thing, is to keep the bread the same. Sourdough cultures are especially sensitive to temperature and humidity. There is not a single batch that is identical to another”. However, one factor that remains constant, is that the bread is healthy. The dough is worked slowly by hand. The flour is given the respect it deserves and the nutrient content of the bread is maintained. “We stand for premium ingredients, the return of the community bakery and truly super bread,” the couple agree.
Food Co is open Tuesday to Friday from 8,30am to 4pm and Saturday 8,30am to 12 noon.