Liam Wilton

Liam Wilton is a second generation family baker bringing a little bit of Hamburg to Ilkley through the popular Moin Moin Bäckerei on Brook Street, Ilkley. We caught up with him to find out a bit more about his journey and the things that motivate him.

What is Moin Moin Bäckerei and where did the idea come from?  

We are an artisan bakers and confectioners producing handcrafted products fresh on a daily basis. The idea grew whilst I was working for a FTSE100 company in Hamburg. I was sick and tired of poor leadership & the fixation on short term profit. Against long term thinking with a people first attitude. There were only two options, shut up and continue. Or lead. I choose the second after having the idea to expand the family business.
Moin Moin is a greeting in Hamburg and across Northern Germany. It loosely translates into how someone in Yorkshire would say “Ey Up!”. I wanted to bring a small part of Hamburg home with me. To act as a small reminder of what I learnt during my time there. 

How did you get into baking? Was it in the family?

I’m a proud second generation baker, I’ve been working in the trade since I was 12. My sisters & I were initially drafted in as kids to make up the mince pie boxes at Christmas. A tradition that still continues to this day even though we are now into our late 20s and early 30s.  

Where do the recipes come from and how do you decide what to sell?

We get them from a variety of sources. Our suppliers send us some with new flours from time to time. The internet has been a great resource for us also. I’ll sit down with my dad and watch Youtube videos of bakers from across Europe and see if this is something we can do.
We have the advantage of making everything by hand so we can try something, give it to our regulars to try and report back. We have done this with a few products now and they have become staples.
But the best recipes have been given to us as gifts by our customers.
Our “Bavarian Rye” recipe was given to my Dad 25 years ago by a German family who wanted “real bread”. It is a rye sourdough starter mixed with dark rye and wholemeal flour. Perfect toasted with a bit of butter. 

Is there much German influence in the baking you do?

Some of our products are German, but as our aim is to give joy. We have a large mix of products from across Europe. As we wish to ensure there is something here for everyone. We do aim to have German precision in our baking ensuring a consistent quality product. 

Are there any other bakeries in the region you look up to or admire?

I admire Leeds Bread Co-Op and the way in which they work and operate as a business. Manna Bakery on Cold Bath Road in Harrogate produces some beautiful products.
My parents bakery The Village Bakery Rawdon, where all our products are made. Seeing the way my parents work has enabled us to try products which would otherwise be beyond my skill set. I’m inspired by my dads unwavering optimism and my mums tenacity.
Unfortunately the standard of baking has dropped over the last 25 years. We are however seeing a resurgence of proper baking. So I’m hopeful for the future. We hope to be at the forefront of this turnaround. 

If somebody had to try one thing from Moin Moin what would it be?

A plain Franzbrötchen, pronounced Franz-Broot-chen. It’s a mix between a Cinnamon roll and a Croissant. This to me this is Hamburg in a pastry. Understated with a slight twist. When I eat one, I’m transported to an Autumn Saturday morning in my old apartment with a cup of black coffee after a foggy run around the Alster. 

Where are your favourite places to eat out in Ilkley? 

For a quick bite to eat I would recommend Daniels Cafe & Bistro. The food is cooked wonderfully, good quality and the atmosphere is nice and relaxed. I recently went to Host for the first time as I had old colleagues visiting from Germany and Spain. I was blown away by the quality and presentation of food. It is the best restaurant I’ve been to in the last five years. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

What’s the key to good baking?

Patience and high quality ingredients. If you don’t have either of these, don’t bother. 
Baking is a science first and foremost. You’re conducting an evolving Chemistry experiment. So take your time. Sequence things wrong or add the incorrect amounts and you’ve just wasted all the work it took to get the ingredients to you. 
This is something we bakers cannot take for granted. We are entrusted as the final gatekeepers in a long supply chain. If we make a mistake we’ve just wasted a lot of time and effort of a lot of people. 
So do things right or don’t do them at all. 

Finally, what are the key principles behind what you do?

We have three pillars and a foundation which we are built around. 

Clear vision & leadership. I have a clear vision of what I want the business to achieve that has nothing to do with the balance sheet. Simply, we put our people & product before profit. We are building for the long haul to ensure that the baking trade becomes stronger over the next few decades. We trust our colleagues to do the right thing and be honest with customers. If something is going wrong, then it is my responsibility to lead.
Quality. We buy the highest grade of everything we can get. We choose to support local businesses where we can. If we start with a quality flour we can be confident that we will make a quality product that people will enjoy. That is our aim, to spread joy. Great food sparks great conversations & ideas. Acting as a potential catalyst to a better life for each and everyone of us.
Excellent customer service. This may sound like a tacky American sales tactic. We are asking people to part with their hard earned cash for a product we produce. The service is a large part of that. Bad service annoys me because it requires a small effort to make a positive impact on someones’ day. We aim to have people leave the shop in a better mood than when they came in. Granted that’s easier with food. 
An unwavering moral foundation. I won’t do anything that goes against my personal moral code. Even if it means missing an opportunity or frustrating people. In the short run you may gain, but it never pays in the long game.  
You can only sell your integrity once.

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