It is about belonging…
In 1983, Vanessa Kimbell, the founder of the Sourdough School, fell in love with sourdough. She was 11 years old and worked helping out in the bakery just yards for her house in South West France. In 1990 Vanessa trained as a baker at college then returned to France to train in the bakery in her local town. She then worked in the UK as a baker whilst studying at university. After a health issue, she stopped being able to digest wheat that was not fermented, which made her delve deeper into the science of fermentation and the gut microbiome. It is fair to say that Vanessa is one of the world’s leading experts in her field, and an award-winning author, regular contributor to BBC Radio 4 and usually busy baking or researching towards a PhD in Nutrition & Digestibility of Bread
The Secret of The Sourdough Club
When in 2009 she began teaching people from the school to make sourdough she realised that a short course often left students frustrated, so she started a club online where she could share more tutorials for students who had attended classes.
The club had several hundred members, and as Vanessa added tips and recipes to it whispers of this secret club, where you could learn all the tricks of how to make incredible sourdough grew. People began to approach Vanessa, asking to join. The legend of this bank of knowledge was international. As more emails came and more people reached out to join asking about the positive benefits sourdough can have on our overall health and well-being, Vanessa wanted to do more. She wanted to share her knowledge with more bakers. But how could she go about this? The Club was designed for students who had already attended her classes and her workshops were already fully booked for the coming year; she’d hit a glass ceiling unless she found a way to redesign the club to put ALL the know-how in a way that people at home might be able to understand, even if they were baking for the first time.
What Happened Next….
So, in 2018 Vanessa made a public announcement calling for creatives to get in touch. One of these creatives, (.. an immensely talented chap named Dan Sherratt, answered the call.) An avid baker and a professional videographer, Dan was perfectly positioned to help Vanessa solve this problem. Together with Dan’s business partner Ben Crone-Barber, the three began planning something amazing; an online resource, unparalleled in scope. The first e-learning service to not only teaches people how to bake with sourdough but also a place to share recipes based on the research and knowledge about the health impacts of slow-fermented foods by Vanessa. As a pioneer in her field and an experienced teacher, there are few professionals in the world better placed than Vanessa to provide this cutting-edge information in a way that everyone can understand.
With almost 200,000 followers on various social media platforms, a crowdfunding campaign was launched in October 2018 and the target reached within the first week. We have members join from 60 countries. After several months of development following the successful campaign, the Sourdough Club was launched.
While the Sourdough School has metamorphosed into a centre for research & educational, the Sourdough Club is entirely focused on providing complete beginners and seasoned bakers alike with everything they need to develop their skills from the comfort of their own homes. But make no mistake, the School and the Club are one of the same, the research at the School fuelling the Club’s content, and both having identical ethos’:
- The aim: To educate in both the art and science of sourdough bread making and fermentation.
- The focus: Nutrition and digestibility of bread and the symbiotic relationship between fermentation, the role of microbes, gut health, and wellness.
- The method: Transforming evidence-based research into recipes and bread-making techniques, tips and advice in plain English.
Whether you are a complete beginner and looking to learn how to make a basic loaf or a seasoned/professional baker who wants to improve their technique and understanding, the Sourdough Club is the one-stop-shop for all your sourdough needs, for all ability levels.