If you’ve ever taken a meander up the North Coast of KZN in search of a quiet spot to enjoy some wholesome nourishment, then we hope you’ve discovered Yoli’s Artisan Breads and Pastries. An artisanal bakery located at the quaint Litchi Orchard‘s “Artisan Avenue’ just outside Salt Rock, Yoli’s offers an array of finely crafted baked goods that are lovingly prepared by hand and are sure to make your taste buds do little somersaults of excitement. Just follow your nose and you’ll find it. We sat down for a quick chat with the proprietor and head pastry chef, Nicky Philip.
Millstone Flour: Hi there, Nicky, thanks for taking the time to chat to us. So you’re an artisan bread and pastry baker? What does that mean for you?
Nicky: Artisan is a very popular word these days. For me it is just a way we like to describe what we do, handcrafted bread and pastries, it’s an art form and we are passionate about it. We make everything from scratch in our bakery so that we truly can put our stamp on it. So they may not look 100 % perfect as they do when you buy factory-made, but we pride ourselves in the fact that we know everything that goes into our products and makes them as healthy and additive-free as possible.
Millstone Flour: Ah, yes… A sentiment we share. Where did your journey with baked goods begin?
Nicky: I qualified as a Pastry Chef in 2003. I then went on to work in various pastry kitchens in hotels, restaurants and bakeries in Cape Town and Durban. For the past 6 years I have been working overseas as a Chef/Pastry Chef.
Millstone Flour: How does the Millstone brand and product align with Yoli’s?
Nicky: We do our best to use local traders and suppliers so we love that the Millstone mill is located in Durban. We also pride ourselves on providing healthy baked goods to our customers and using Millstone flour allows us to bake our range free of preservatives/additives. We share the same philosophy of using traditional methods to produce our products.
Millstone Flour: What kinds of things do you guys bake here?
Nicky: Various types of craft bread, French pastries and our beloved homemade pies. We also produce gluten-free/carb-free loaves and are expanding our product line all the time! We’ve just started making a range of compound butter to complement our bread.
Millstone Flour: We do love a good craft bread. Do you have a signature bread, unique to Yoli’s?
Nicky: We do many different flavours and speciality bread but our Cheese, Chive and Castle Lager Beer Bread have been extremely popular, as have our Fresh Tomato And Basil Sourdough. But what everyone seems to be talking about are the homemade pies, we also make all our pastry with Millstone flour.
Millstone Flour: What do you feel are the greatest benefits of artisanal foods and ingredients?
Nicky: Being made from scratch and lovingly by hand generally means the product will be far more healthy and nutritious than mass-produced commercial products. Artisans can control what goes into the goods they make to sell to the customers. Generally speaking, artisans care a great deal about the quality of their products and in our case, we try to keep our goods as pure, delicious and wholesome as possible.
Millstone Flour: Where did the name Yoli’s come from?
Nicky: Yolanda is my middle name and was my maternal grandmothers name, although most people called her Yoli. The name is very sentimental to me.Millstone Flour: That’s so sweet. How do you source your ingredients?
Nicky: Whenever we can, we try to source ingredients as locally as possible. Instead of using large mainstream suppliers we try to support local traders and small business owners in the area, for example, all the fresh vegetables we use come from a small business owner in Umhlali. We also try to use preservative and organic products where we can, as is the case with the meat in our pies, that is also hormone-free and antibiotic-free.
Millstone Flour: Local really is lekker. So is everything baked on site?
Nicky: Yes! Absolutely all our goods are baked on-site. We pride ourselves on this fact!
Millstone Flour: We were flattered to see that you featured some pics on Facebook of our flour. What do you like about using Millstone?
Nicky: Millstone flour ticks all the boxes for us, it’s locally produced and a healthy clean product so we feel good about using it as the main ingredient in just about all the products we make. We also love the packaging, which looks great in our shop front!
Millstone Flour: Thank you, kindly! How did you discover Millstone Flour?
Millstone Flour: Call us sentimental, but we do have a soft spot for our mill… It’s where the magic happens. Is it a happy little family of artisans at The Litchi Orchard?
Nicky: It definitely is, we are all very like-minded at the Litchi Orchard and we look after, support and inspire each other. Yoli’s is lucky to have such caring and creative neighbours!
Millstone Flour: We couldn’t agree more! Where were you baking before setting up shop in “Artisan Avenue’?
Nicky: For the past 5 years I have been working and travelling as a private chef on various luxury yachts overseas, so the last time I was baking full time was when I was working at the Hummingbird Bakery in London in 2009.
Millstone Flour: So you’ve seen quite a bit of the world then! Where to for Yoli’s? Do you have any big plans or new products in the oven?
Nicky: We have great plans to expand our product range, and our focus for the near future will be on perfecting our current products and making sure we can keep our customers happy and coming back for more!
Millstone Flour: Anything else you’d like to add?
Nicky: Just to thank Millstone for such a great product that we so thoroughly enjoy using in the bakery.
Millstone Flour: Ah, thanks, Nicky!