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TGtS Meets...Tom Herbert

We caught up with one half of Britain's favourite baking brothers, Tom Herbert at The Brunel's Flour Festival.

When did you first discover that you were dab hand in the kitchen?

I grew up above my family's bakery, Hobbs House in Chipping Sodbury, so I've always had a passion for baking. I used to help my dad jam doughnuts from as young as four. 

How does it feel to be a bit of a baking heartthrob?

Well if indeed I am that's massively flattering. Being a pin up was never my aim, I'm all about getting people to make and enjoy good food and I see bread at the heart of that. 

Is there much sibling rivalry between you and your brother Henry?

Massively! There's six of us altogether, five boys and one girl, so there's lots of competitivness - I guess for our mum's attention, growing up everybody wanted to be her favourite, so over the years we've all had to up our game. 

Growing up who were your culinary idols?

I suppose my dad because I used to work alongside him during the school holidays, the noise and smells from the bakery would waft up and I'd go downstairs and help out, I used to think that was pretty cool. Probably the game changer for me though was hearing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describe the issues around meat and how people should appreciate the process from killing to enjoying. It really opened my eyes about how we can eat, share and understand food with one another. 

You’re a very foodie family, do your kids like to help you out in the kitchen?

I've got four kids and they're all really keen to get involved, sometimes it's getting them out of my way when I'm working that's the issue. I'll be trying to perfect a new recipe and they'll be adding ingredients left, right and centre claiming to be "just helping daddy". I think with all kids, if their parents are doing something and it looks fun, messy or enjoyable they want to get involved. I count it as a privilege to make a mess in the kitchen with them. 

What are your top baking tips?

I think that my top tip would be to find a good flour and stick with it, when you're working with basic, raw ingredients it's good to stick with them until you've perfected the recipe and then take that learning and apply it to other things. For instance in our first book 'Fabulous Baker Brothers' there's a recipe for a basic white loaf, once people have mastered that they can take what they've learnt and progress to make a fantastic wholemeal loaf. You can apply that logic to a lot of food, get the basics right and go from there. 

What advice would you give to any budding bakers out there?

Get as much practice as you can at home, be hungry, read books and learn about it. You can't beat some first-hand experience in a bakery, so try and get some work experience in your local store. 

What’s your favourite dish to make?

At the moment I love pizza, everyone loves pizza and if they don't I can find them a pizza that they will love. At home instead of having dinner parties, we have lots of friends over and I make a dough and let our guests create their own, it's really relaxed, fun and delicious.

Do you have any exciting projects lined up this year?

We're about to start filming our new series, so that's something that will go out worldwide on Discovery towards the end of the year but I'm not sure of an air date yet.  I'm also going to be working with Tearfund on a project called 'No Child Taken' to stop child trafficking, which is something that's really personal to me. I'll also be doing lots of teaching at our school in Chipping Sodbury, so people should come down and check it out. 

To find out more about the cooking courses available at Hobbs House Bakery click here.

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