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Don Rodrigo’s Sourdough Bakery – Nelson Mail 15.09.15

If you haven’t tried the breads produced by Don Rodrigo’s Sourdough Bakery then you have missed something special, not just the breads but also the joy they bring to selling wonderful hand crafted products they make.

Rodrigo Ardiles and Katrina Hiller have fully embraced the lifestyle owning your own business can offer and while some business advisors would have told them they were going about it the wrong way Rodrigo says “if you approach business with the right attitude a community will take care of you, especially if you are part of the community and we have always worked hard to be part of a community. We know that what we give we get back in support for our business”. The successful business they have created is testament to this positive attitude.

Ardiles is a chef by trade and he met Hiller when they were both in Thames before moving to Nelson where Ardiles had a job at the Riverside Community as the chef in their delightful café. Living in the community for two years they had a great relationship with the others who lived there, the gardener would grow products he needed in the kitchen and Motueka Valley locals soon found a favourite café.

While Ardiles loved being a chef he and Hiller were keen to start their own business and started baking bread in a small commercial kitchen in Lansdowne Road that they converted to a bakery in 2012. They worked very hard (and still do) baking bread products and selling them. “Getting people to taste your products is one of the hardest things” say Hiller “but when they do then they become regular customers.”

Selling direct to customers is what they like to do most, however in the early days as well as going to the Motueka market they set up three road-side honesty box stalls. They stocked the stalls with fresh treats each day and at the end of the day collected the money without counting it from each stall. With true community spirit they had a sign in each stall that said something like ‘if you can’t afford to pay today please take some bread and pay us when you can’. Hiller says “people used to phone us for our bank account number so they could pay online, we would rather give the bread to people who needed it and in doing this people accepted us as part of their small communities.”

While developing the business they also had a family, including twins. When you have a small business you need to work hard to make it work and when you are selling a fresh product you can’t just leave it until next week, you need to sell it today so they did everything they needed to do, including starting baking at 2am and taking the kids to the market with them.

Something else that is important to Ardiles and Hiller is having fun and while business can be both awesome and awful meeting people and having fun gets you through the tough times. “We love people and dealing with them directly lets us see the smiles on people faces when they try our products, we love the interaction and with bread we get faster, more immediate feedback from customers compared to cooking in a cafe. It always amazes us how many different people you can see at a market, it is busy, hectic and fun says Ardiles.”

Don Rodrigo’s Sourdough Bakery’s stall now appears at the Motueka market, the Wednesday farmers market at Morrison Square and at the Saturday Nelson market and with the success has come further expansion, they open a shop at the Richmond Mall this week so now you can not only buy their fresh bread products but you can buy beautiful sandwiches, filled rolls and freshly pressed juices; of course you will be able to buy their breads, cracker bread, doughnuts, bagels and tarts at the new shop too.

You will find Don Rodrigo’s Sourdough Bakery’s new shop on the entrance to the mall beside Guyton’s and they will serve food using as many local products as possible, from fresh fruit and vegetables to meats produced by Heck’s the butcher. Ardiles and Hiller are looking forward to being part of the mall community and I am sure the cool attitude they have to life and the passion they bring to their business will enhance your next Richmond Mall experience.

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I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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