VANESSA KIMBELL –
Vanessa is category leader of the sourdough section of The World Bread Awards and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme, and the resident baker for Bakerybits. Day to day she teaches sourdough bread making here at The Sourdough School in Northamptonshire.
When Vanessa was nine, her parents bought a house in rural south-west France, just 60 yards away from the busy village bakery. The bakery supplied all the bread for miles around and was right the heart of the community. She fell in love with everything French – the wine, the cheese, the fresh fruit and vegetables, the farmers, and the local markets, but most of all she fell in love with the bread, and spent every spare moment of her childhood working in the village bakery.
It was here that she really connected to farmers and the land, and the relationship between food and family and community that was right at the heart of French living. Aged 18, she qualified as a baker and a chef in the UK, but there were no ‘real’ bakeries. Returning to France, she worked in a restaurant in Paris for a summer and then spent a further year as a baker’s apprentice in the Dordogne. Vanessa worked in hotels and restaurants for a further six years, and completed a degree in Psychology of Human Communication. For a number of years she worked outside the food industry, while avidly baking treats for board meetings, but decided to return to her original love of baking and writing once her youngest daughter started nursery.
Coming from a long line of female chefs and bakers, her Italian mother was a senior chef at Keele University and both her English grandmother and Italian great-grandmother were bakers, so a fourth generation baker of Italian descent was always going to have a love of food. Vanessa has been baking sourdough since she was just 11 years old, so unsurprisingly her specialist subject is sourdough and baking with wild yeast. Vanessa’s most recent book is Food for Thought,was recently The Telegraph Book of the week and is published by Kyle Cathie
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