A brief discussion with Graham, owner of Bertha’s Sourdough Pizza.
What’s your hometown? I’m northern and proud but more recently London.
What led you to Bristol? We moved to Bristol a couple of weeks ago but it’s been our spiritual home for some time. We love its passion for the independents, the great food scene and the outdoor playground on the doorstep!
What’s the history behind Bertha’s? Back in London we had a Sheffield steel wood fired oven – Bertha to her friends. That’s where our obsession with wood fired cooking took hold and the next thing I knew I was staging in some of the best pizzerias in the US and trying to turn our dream of owning a neighbourhood restaurant into reality.
So Bertha started off in London. What lead Bertha to Bristol? Bristol rocks. We’ve admired from afar for some time and never saw ourselves settling down in London. When the pizzeria idea was born we considered a whole host of possible locations around the country and beyond. Bristol just kept cropping back up, it seems to share the same values that we hold dear.
What encouraged you to leave your desk-bound world behind you and start a new adventure? There came a stage when we realised we’d regret it more if we never tried than if we tried and failed. Besides all our mates were getting sick to death of us talking about it so we had to give it a go.
You keep all your ingredients fresh and local which leads to an ever-changing, exciting menu as well as food of the highest quality that leaves our taste buds demanding more, but we’ve been wondering: where did the inspiration to focus on Sourdough bloom from? Sourdough is where bread began. Right now it’s in fashion but we’re far more interested by how it tastes. We push our ferments longer so the gluten breaks down further and you end up with something which is both delicious and easy to digest. My life would be much easier if I switched to commercial yeast but where’s the fun in that? A sourdough starter is for life not just for Christmas.
We love your land rover, street food that can handle all weather! What’s the story behind it? Thank you. We looked at all sorts of vintage vans but a couple of days cycling around Bristol’s hills and we knew they wouldn’t cut it. Plus I’m a engineer by trade and love how accessible it all is; I’d take ‘rustic charm’ over plasticised features any day. The other traders seem to like her around too, only last month we towed out two transit vans which we’re stuck on site.
Where’s your favourite place in Bristol to park up and get selling? Temple Quay market’s a firm favourite – see you there on Thursday?
You’re also available for private hire, right? Ever rolled up to some mightily unusual events or has Bertha stayed in the realms of sanity so far? A wedding half way up the Old Man of Coniston in the Lakes would have to make that list. Five hours of jostling with the lorries in the slow lane was all worthwhile for the last couple of miles on a sheer gravel track.
When you’re not busy making and baking, where do you spend your down time kicking back? Any cool places we should be checking out in and around Bristol? We’re the newbies, you should be telling us… It’s early days but we love No. 12 Easton, East Bristol Bakery, Harts Bakery and Small Bar.
What’s the future for Bertha’s Sourdough Pizza and yourselves? Anything you’ve always wanted to try out? The master plan is to open a restaurant, get a dog and live happily ever after – who’s after a wood fired sourdough pizzeria in their neighbourhood?