An Expanding Range of Delicious Bakery Foods
With the Same Attention to Quality & ServiceSince taking over “The Sponge Kitchen” in 2002 head baker James Cootes and his wife Annette have opened their second store and greatly expanded the products and services on offer, without compromising the quality the popular local bakery has always been renowned for.
A traditional Craft Bakery, “The Sponge Kitchen” had been supplying Otaki residents with Cakes, Pies, Savouries and Slices from its Main Street store since the early 1960's when James went to work there after school cleaning tins and baking trays.
He was 14 then, 18 months later he left school to work full time at the Bakery and began his apprenticeship. It was a great place to learn his trade with everything made on site from scratch and not a premix in sight.
In March 1995 he completed his apprenticeship finishing 3rd in NZ and top in his class, later qualifying as a registered Bakery Assessor. He continued to work at The Sponge Kitchen where he met his lovely wife Annette who managed the shop side of the bakery.
In 2002 they had the opportunity to purchase The Sponge Kitchen and opened for business on the 1st of July, later shortening the name to SK Bakery and continuing to provide the Otaki community with great food and service.
Over the next 2 years they developed the business further, in August 2004 opening a Bakery/Cafe on State Highway 1, an ideal spot to benefit from the weekend shoppers now flocking to Otaki.
They extended the product range as well, which now includes Gateaux, Cheesecakes, Decorated Cakes, Gourmet Pies, Catering, Gluten free options and lots of other scrumptious things. 5 years on everything is still baked fresh on site by a devoted and experienced team of 26 staff.
Creative Cakes Attract Famous ClienteleJames’s passion for cake decorating has been earning him some quiet recognition from influential areas, with catering celebrity Ruth Pretty endorsing his work he’s received commissions for events such as Shortland Street’s 15 th Anniversary, Telecom’s birthday bash and Peter Jackson’s children’s birthdays.
Dedicated to Staff and Industry ImprovementJames’s commitment to the industry is undeniable and his ideas for future development always include extending the skills of his staff and improving standards within the industry, some of his plans include:
- Continuing to develop the image of the shops and bakery, “working hard on branding and differentiating the image.”
- Continuing to develop and test a Food Safety Programme in association with the local council and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority. (James is particularly proud of the Excellence in Food Hygiene certificate awarded to SK Bakery in 2006.)
- Encouraging staff and managers into their own outlets under a franchise arrangement. James is keen on developing people to their potential.
“We are committed to the industry, investing training in our staff and apprentice bakers so we can continue in the tradition started back in 1960. We hope you pop in some time and sample some of that tradition and thanks to all the customers that have supported us over the years.”
- Continuing to invest in staff and apprentice training.