Yummy.ph Meets TLC’s The Fabulous Baker Brothers
We chat with Tom and Henry Herbert about growing up with good food and what makes a great loaf of bread.
Last Saturday, Tom and Henry Herbert a.k.a. The Fabulous Baker Brothers made their first visit to Manila to join in the festivities at The TLC Festival held in Bonifacio High Street. The fifth generation bakers and TV presenters proudly shared their brilliant brand of British cooking and baking to scores of adoring fans, taking a few selfies and stuffing themselves with lechon along the way.
We had a quick chat with the charming brother duo and they talked to us about their travels, what inspires them, and why exactly everyone should be making their own bread.
Yummy.ph: You guys come from a really long line of bakers. You’ve got four other siblings and are the fifth generation to work at Hobbs House Bakery. What was it like being surrounded by all that food, and growing up with it?
Tom Herbert: We loved it!
Henry Herbert: We feel very privileged to have grown up in a kind of environment where there’s always good bread, good meat, and home cooked food. I think it really gives you an appreciation that food is something to be celebrated and very much about bringing people together. A good loaf of bread is like the center of a community.
Tom: There are two aspects, I suppose. One is that we grew up above the bakery and the butchery, and we always had a sense of where produce comes from, where ingredients come from. That is the absolute number one, most important thing to us. The other is the whole reason we do this, like Henry said, which is to bring people together.
Yummy.ph: You’ve done quite a bit of travelling, haven’t you? You’ve been all around the UK and gone to all sorts of different countries. How do your travels influence your cooking and baking?
Henry: The thing for us is that we love meeting people; we love adventure and going somewhere new. I think the way to get into a community and to feel the heartbeat of it is through people’s mouths. So, if we came here and ate American food, it’d be completely pointless because you’d be chatting to people while eating a burger, while what we actually want to do is know what you guys eat.
It’s about building memories for us and it’s much more special and it gives you context. When you’re back at home cooking, and think, “I remember we had this delicious thing in the Philippines and I want to try and recreate that,” it’s never going to be quite the same, because you’re not at the location. There’s something special about being somewhere else.
Tom: You can truly experience a place and know a place through its food and the people that make it.
Yummy.ph: Being experienced British bakers, would you have any tips or suggestions for Filipinos who would like to start making classically British bakes?
Henry: I’d suggest they make a good British cake. Whether it’s a Victoria Sponge or a Bakewell Tart or Pudding, if you can get the ingredients, they’re not too difficult to make. I think when it comes to making bread, it’s all about the flour.
Tom: You have to have bread making flour.
Henry: Yeah, you can’t use rice flour. It has to be strong bread flour. Make sure you can get a hold of it.
Tom: And the next thing you have to do if you want to try something that’s just at the heart of bread-making and really central to the whole purpose of bread, you’ve got to try making sourdough. On our Hobbs House Bakery YouTube, we’ve just posted six short videos to show you all the steps of how to make your own sourdough. I’d love it if people could watch that, take the trouble to find the ingredients and have a go for themselves because your mind will be blown. It’s not like any bread that I’ve tasted here.
Knowing all the flavors we’ve tasted here, there are lots of really strong flavors and you like fermented things. I think compared to sweet, fluffy American-style bread, sourdough’s got so much more body and soul and it has such a full flavor. I think you guys would really love that. More people really need to try it.
Yummy.ph: Before we all head off, one last thing: It’s almost the holidays. Everyone loves a good present. What are you hoping to get this Christmas?
Tom: Oooooooh. I’ve got a list, actually! It’s on my phone. I’ve been favoriting things that I’ve been coming across. Let’s have a look and see. What would you like to get, Henry?
Henry: Can it be something that’s unattainable?
Yummy.ph: Whatever you like!
Henry: A helicopter would be really nice! I also really, really need a new pair of jeans. I think that’s what I’m getting. Actually, you know what I’m getting for Christmas? My wife is eight months pregnant and the baby is due on the 24th of December. So I might be having a baby boy come Christmas and I think that’s the best thing I can get.
Tom: Okay, so I’ve got a few things here on my list. The EO-2 Pilot Watch, for starters. The Best Made Company, they’re American, make this bow and arrow. I’d love to have a go with that and maybe go hunting. Also, gold plated dress-making scissors. I found some that were made in England and they’re like 80 pounds. I really need some good scissors! So, it’s fancy scissors and a bow and arrow.
Photo courtesy of TLC Asia.