The Smell of Fresh Bread is in the Air at Marqette, Dublin Airport – Head Baker Interview
The smell of freshly baked bread is not one you would associate with an airport. The scent of perfume from the Duty Free; the smell of junk food from the omnipresent fast food chains; the lingering whiff of jet fuel from the runway; yes. But the mouthwatering aroma of a batch loaf straight out of the oven? Hardly.
This is where Marqette food court in Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport differs. Breaking the mould of heating up mass produced baked goods like at other airport eateries, Marqette is home to one of only three working airport bakeries in the world.
Starting their shift at 3am, Head Baker Steve Roffey and the bakery team produce about 1200 items each day; preparing each and every sourdough loaf, scone, croissant, eclair, muffin and cookie from scratch right in the heart of Ireland’s busiest thoroughfare.
Much more than just a bakery, Marqette is a game changer in airport dining; picking up awards for it’s unique setting and freshly prepared and local food offering, among them a nomination for “Airport Food Court of the Year” and a highly commended rating at the international Airport Food & Beverage Awards 2016.
We spoke to baker Steve about the challenges and logistics of operating a bakery at an airport, how he gets ingredients past security,
Hi Steve, so, where did you do your training as a pastry chef?
I trained in London’s West End at the Grand Connaught Rooms Hotel, following my apprenticeship as a chef; I then trained as a pastry chef which became my lifelong passion. I was offered an opportunity to work with chocolate and was trained by a master chocolatier from Holland who made chocolates for the Dutch Royal Family. I loved creating unique chocolate recipes working with Gulliver’s (Kinnerton’s) in Hampstead, London, supplying chocolates to Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges, Grosvenor Hotel among other high profile clients.
My next career move brought me into food production where I managed a large scale food factory at Pittas Foods in North London managing a team of 50 people supplying to high profile supermarkets before joining the team in Marqette.
How many bakers work at Marqette?
The bakery team consists of 6 members; two catering college graduates, an Italian bread specialist, a bakery assistant and then Aggie, a baker, and I have been here since we opened. The team all have different food backgrounds and I try and encourage each team member to create a unique product that they are responsible for. We have created an array of mouth-watering artisan products.What time do you and the bakery team start at each day?
We start work at 3am each morning and finish at 9pm, working different shifts seven days a week. The mornings are incredibly busy with flights departing continually from 5.30am, so the pressure is on to ensure we have a plentiful supply of freshly baked croissants, bread, cinnamon Danish and other treats.
Are customers surprised when they find the bread is baked fresh on site?
Yes, they are shocked to see such an array of freshly made goods.
The customers can see us working hard, cutting, rolling, and mixing and an array of smells drift through the air so they know everything is made at Marqette and we get some terrific feedback from customers.
Why do you think airports have traditionally not included a working bakery?
Probably logistics, being able to have the traditional bakery equipment; ovens, storage and work space makes it challenging for food producers working in confined airport space not to mention the huge volume and vast selection.
Most airport restaurants buy in mass produced baked goods and give them a blast of heat. We make everything from scratch on the premises.
Where do you source the ingredients and is it difficult to get them through security?
We use local suppliers as much as possible to make sure we get the best quality ingredients and freshness is also the key. Masterlink are the only company that are approved for deliveries at Dublin Airport due to strict security measures including itemised scanning.
What range of products you produce at the bakery?
The range of products include croissants, muffins, scones, Danish pastries, fresh cream cakes, cheesecakes, our own recipe brown and white soda bread, sourdough, seaweed and Italian breads, and we are always creating new delicious baked goods. The croissants are a winner; we can’t make enough of them. Scones are a close second but we also have some interesting flavoured cakes which you won’t find anywhere else.
Marqette is open almost round the clock, what is the busiest time?
The busiest time is 4am to 8am because sixty percent of travellers fly out between 4.30am and 8am so we need everything ready to go in preparation for when the first plane takes off.
Do you know what other airports around the world have a bakery similar to Marqette?
I believe there are only 3 working bakeries at airports around the world so it is an honour, that we have our very own bakery right here in Dublin Airport. The next time you are flying out of Terminal 1, call into Marqette and sample one of our cakes or pastries, freshly made and straight from the oven!
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law degree, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.