THIS baker may have traversed the world, but he is determined that his artisan bakeries in Singapore remain nestled in the hearts of local neighbourhoods.
The artisan bakery and foodstore Baker & Cook is the brainchild of Mr Dean Brettschneider, 46, known internationally as the Global Baker.
Founded in 2012, Baker & Cook's first flagship store in Hillcrest Road has since expanded to three other locations - Chip Bee Gardens, Bugis at Intercontinental Hotel and, just recently, Swan Lake Avenue in Opera Estate.
In addition to the expansion of the bakery business, he has opened the first outlet of Plank Sourdough Pizza, Singapore's first sourdough pizza restaurant, in Swan Lake Avenue as well.
His love affair with baking began when he was growing up in New Zealand.
"My grandmother was a farmer and, well, farmers like to bake and spend most of their time baking," he said, laughing.
This interest was further developed through his apprenticeship at the award-winning Rangiora Bakery in North Canterbury, New Zealand, when he was 16 years old. "I was extremely goal-driven and I think that has pushed me to where I am today."
Mr Brettschneider is known as a baker, entrepreneur and TV personality. He appears as cost-host and judge in the New Zealand's Hottest Home Baker series, and also hosts his own series called Kiwi Baker In Shanghai And Singapore.
"I like baking, and the fact that I could make money from it helped," he laughed.
Besides Baker & Cook, Mr Brettschneider is also the co-founder of Urban Bakery in New Zealand, a partner in Crosstown Doughnuts in London and a consulting baker with Dragon Hotel Group in Hangzhou, China.
Despite having no background in business, Mr Brettschneider believes that "business smarts can't be learnt in school".
A large portion of successfully conducting a business boils down to one's intuition, he said.
And why the name Global Baker?
"I thought the name was trendy, and turns out the website was available," he said.
But this is no empty title. After qualifying as a baker and pastry cook, he travelled and learnt in various establishments in Europe. He went on to work in the United States, Middle East, Britain, New Zealand and Shanghai, before setting up Baker & Cook in Singapore in 2012.
Mr Brettschneider now resides in Denmark where he operates his global baking business from, but travels regularly to Singapore as well. "You build a brand and then live it," he mused.
Travelling has granted him exposure to different cultures and baking styles. This has influenced his personal and, in turn, Baker & Cook's style. "Our style is New World baking," Mr Brettschneider said, "involving a mixture of tradition and innovation."
Hence, Singapore was a natural choice of residence for Baker & Cook given that it is a young country, open to innovation, experimentation and external influences. "Singaporeans love change. They're looking for a bakery with influences around the world and appreciate good quality breads," Mr Brettschneider commented, and this is what Baker & Cook aims to bring to the various neighbourhoods with its New World baking experience.
Since Baker & Cook first opened its outlet three years ago, it has increased its revenue by 410 per cent across all outlets.
Baker & Cook at Chip Bee Gardens processes around 3,500 transactions a week, serving around 8,500 customers in total.
Mr Brettschneider owes Baker & Cook's success to a combination of its quality products and the successful model of his stores.
His business strategy for Baker & Cook is focused on entering the local neighbourhoods.
"Being situated within the neighbourhood offers me a chance to be in touch with families, multi-generational even, grow a community and gain a following of loyal customers, unlike in the city, where people come and go," he explained.
"Sometimes when you're situated in the city, you are tempted to attract customers by introducing new foodstuff such as pasta, and that distracts yourself from enhancing the true essence of your brand," he added. "Some stores are really just restaurants masquerading as bakeries."
The design of Baker & Cook is also meticulously thought out.
The storefront consists of glass windows that better display the range of bread, and attracts customers. "It's all about making a visual statement," Mr Brettschneider said, "It's about trying to catch your eye."
He plans to open an additional four neighbourhood locations by the end of next year, along with at least four additional outlets of its new concept, Plank Sourdough Pizza.
And even for this new concept, the focus is still on the quality of bread.
"Stick to your knitting and do it well," he quipped. "That's what I believe in."