A quick background
We (Kevin and Esther Gilbert) started our Dunedin-based bakery lives in 2006 when we bought Charlotte Bakery. Lievito Bakery, an outlet at the Otago Farmers’ Market followed in late 2007, and Charlotte was sold in mid-2008 to allow us to concentrate on just one business.
Over the next four years, this continued to grow from Kevin doing everything by himself on a mostly part-time basis to employing a baker (Kieran) and part-time help to get through the increasing demand for the gluten free breads and associated products. The premises we operated out of became increasingly tight.
In 2011, the search began for new premises, and over a year later, the business moved to its current spot at 47 Otaki Street. The converted warehouse now sports a large bake house, with plenty of room to grow. The added advantage of the site is the showroom which has been turned into our fabulous shop stocking our bakery products as well as NZ produced specialty foods.
At the same time, we changed the company name to Gilbert’s Fine Food, to better encompass the wider-than-just-bakery-product range of goods we now offer for sale. The Lievito Bakery name continues for the gluten-free range of products
Gilbert's Fine Food We're not just saying that we support our local community, we actually get out there and do it. Whether it's providing food, fundraising, giving demonstrations and presentations or getting our hands dirty planting trees, we understand as a team that we are part of a fantastic community and do what we can to support it.
Providing 30,000 meals each month to hungry mouths in Dunedin takes a lot of work. The incredible team at Kiwi Harvest do an amazing job and we're happy to have been helping them from the day we opened. The hard work is done by the team at Kiwi Harvest, our help comes in the way of providing some of the food as well as providing a voice and, at times, entertainment.
If you would like to know more about the work that FoodShare go to their website.
Just by Lake Waihola, the Sinclair Wetlands is a privately-owned wetland which is internationally respected as a reserve. It has ponds, swampland and two re-vegetating islands which attract up to 60 species of birds. It is regarded as the largest and most important privately owned wetland in New Zealand.
We've become somewhat avid supporters of their work and raise funds in store to help keep them going. We've also got muddy and had a whale of a time when the whole team spent some time on a Sunday planting trees (which were still growing when we went out again several months later)
To find out more on the Sinclair Wetlands visit their Facebook page
Yellow-eyed penguins (Hoiho) are one of the rarest penguins in the world and unique to the lower east coast of New Zealand. In the late 1980s the outlook for these penguins looked very bleak. The cool coastal forest where they nested had been cleared for pasture. Sheep and cattle trampled their nests. Ferrets and stoats introduced by the early settlers killed and ate their chicks. The population was falling fast and something needed to be done.
The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust was formed in 1987 to alert everyone to the problem and in 2013 we started supporting them in whatever ways we can.
To find out more about the Hoiho and its struggle see the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust website
We love learning. We like to constantly be upskilling ourselves as well as passing our knowledge on. Whether it's teach 5-7 year olds about state changes by making ice-cream using liquid nitrogen, showing a few tips and techniques with chocolate at the Cadbury Chocolate Festival, giving demonstrations at high schools and polytechnics around the country, writing articles for newspapers and magazines or presenting at conferences.
If would like to have us give a demonstration or presentation get in touch with us.
When we can, we like to get behind local causes and help them raise funds for worthy causes. From school trips and sporting teams to community groups and clubs. If we feel we can help, we will.
Sometimes it's as simple as helping a school put together a recipe book. Other times it's putting on a class for a sports team or other group to sell tickets to.
If you know of a group looking to raise funds let us know and we'll see if we can help.
Kevin is the key person behind Gilbert's - master baker, product developer, sales person, procurement officer, chief of staff and many other titles. He got into baking when he wanted to leave school but was only allowed to do so if he had a job or apprenticeship lined up. Once qualified, he went on his OE where he ended up in Scotland. When he got back NZ, he retrained as a chef and worked in restaurants such as Thornley's and Te Papa's Icon.
Abandoning the kitchen, he did a stint as hotel receptionist / front office manager in Wellington, Queenstown and Auckland. A long-standing belief that there is more to bread than what can be found in a supermarket led to the ongoing experiment that began with Charlotte's French Bakery, progressed to Lievito Bakery and has now morphed to Gilbert's Fine Food.
In his spare time, he likes to play guitar and piano; distill and brew his own concoctions; and spend time in the garden (tending to edible plants only; the decorative ones tend to disappear).
Another Dunedinite on the team, Cam has been with the Gilbert's team since we opened.
He comes to us with a wealth of experience particularly with cakes having been something of a figure in the event and wedding cake scene in Dunedin for the last few years.
In return for helping us improve our skills in cakes Cam is, for the first time since he's been baking (10 years) making pies, and Danish pastry.
A very proud father of two (Riley and Lyla) Cam is quick with a laugh, smile and joke. There is a standing challenge at Gilbert's - to record Cam's laugh to use as a ringtone.
Esther was born in Switzerland moving to New Zealand with her family in 1986 when she was still young enough to develop a sense of humour. Her Swiss background has had an influence on many of the products available at Gilbert's and continues to be a source of inspiration.
After attending high school and the University of Otago and still not knowing what she wanted to do with her life, (she will tell you that she still doesn't know what she wants to do when she grows up) Esther spent almost a decade working in hospitality (hotel reception, conferencing and management) in Queenstown, Wellington and Auckland.
A couple of positions in senior management provided a good grounding for the bulk of the work Esther does for Gilbert's - being most of the admin - hidden away but apparently necessary. Invoicing, paying bills, payroll, budgets vs actuals, the Food Safety Programme, the list is endless.
She spends most of her week working as administrator at a local accountancy firm and enjoys being at the Farmers' Market on a Saturday as an anti-dote to sitting in front of a computer all day. Esther can also be seen most mornings at the bakery either packing orders, doing yet more paperwork as well as being Kevin's assistant at baking classes.
Spare time is usually spent reading a good book or indulging in crafts.
Originally from Christchurch, Dana decided to live in a city with more solid foundations and moved to Dunedin a couple of years ago. She joined the GIlbert's team when we opened the shop, and has been the friendly face at the counter ever since. She is in charge of most of the non-baking food production, and has become a dab hand at filled rolls, biscuits and the myriad other tasks left to her on a daily basis.
An avid reader Dana is often engrossed in a novel and when asked to describe what else she does Dana says "searches the world for unicorns leaving a trail of mischief and mayhem in her wake".
Greg has been baking for years in a variety of arenas so brings with him a wealth of skill. Although, as yet, this training hasn't been recognised with an official qualification, it's something that we'll be working on in the near future.
Aside from being one of the new kids on the Gilbert's block, Greg is also a keen, and semi professional, car enthusiast and given the number of packages that arrive for him, is building a car one mail order at a time. He is also a very devoted father to his young son - Macklin.