The Isle of Skye baking Company is owned and run in every sense, everyday by us – Barry and Liza Hawthorne – along with an amazing team of folk, who we will introduce as this blog goes along. Suffice, for now, to say that they keep us going, keep the business going and are very much a part of our bakery and gallery world.
We first ventured onto the Isle of Skye in 2003, part of a journey that began in the tiny village of Glenelg and took us across the Highlands and Islands as far as Orkney. We then returned far south to our home town – Cape Town in South Africa, before heading back to the UK and to the not-so bright lights of North London, where we lived and work for a short period. We finally moved back to Skye, with our two-year-old daughter, Maddy to settle and build The Isle of Skye Baking Company in 2007.
Prior to this fascination with The Isle of Skye, Barry was a pastry chef, who had trained in Cape Town under a master German Baker, while my own profession was as a designer of jewellery and textiles, but one who veered, more than occasionally, into the world of hospitality.
We married in 2001, with food being the common denominator, though we didn’t really know it at the time. Shortly after that we travelled, had a daughter, and several holidays on the Isle of Skye. One thing soon led to another and we rented a house on Skye (with no money at all!) We urgently needed to find an income, and settled on the idea that Skye needed a company making shortbread and oatcakes.
We started from very humble beginnings and faced many challenges, from working out what an oatcake should taste like, learning about traditional recipes of Scotland, understanding Highland culture and the nature of the people to whom Skye belongs, and figuring out how to combine a passion for baking and Island life with the urgent requirement to create a thriving business.
We were incomers in so many ways, but with a desire to give something back to the community that welcomed us and that has seen us grow. We managed to overcome the personal and cultural hurdles that stood in our way, as well as familiarising ourselves with the intimidating and stressful world of running your own business
In the true sense of the words, it was a kitchen table business. Everything was made by hand (and still is) using basic domestic equipment and a lot of goodwill and enthusiasm. And then recipes for shortbread, tablet, and preserves had to be perfected.
Maddy is now ten, we own a Baking Company (Ltd), have an amazing kitchen with not one, but two food shops with seats, and an art gallery. And we will take up the story from here…recipes, day-to-day moments to relish and lots of photos – enjoy.