We talk to Clayton McErlane about his Baron Hasselfhoff's organic, vegan, gluten free cookies, and we try a few just to be extra sure of their deliciousness!
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Clayton shares the life-long passion for food that so many of our suppliers and chefs burn with. It is a wonderful thing to see someone who dreamed of working with food since childhood now creating their own amazing products and running their own business.
Clayton went from school to chef training to some of Christchurch's best restaurants. From the beginning he found himself focusing on the art of the pastry chef and "enjoying the playfulness of the sweet."
A near-cafe, and awful stickers
Baron Hasselfhoff's was started back in October 2011 while Clayton was working as a full-time chef. As of October 2013 the success of his business has allowed Clayton to become full-time self-employed (which he says with a "gulp!").
"Baron's was born out of a café idea that never made it off the ground," says Clayton. "All I ended up with after the near café opening was a name and a good dose of depression."
"Knowing that I needed to create something of my own - for my sanity - I thought of creating a gluten free range of slices. So I baked a batch, threw on some awful stickers (which have improved dramatically) and went door knocking through the Nelson region."
The future is... cookies!
Support from local eateries for his early products kept Clayton going until his big opportunity came. "One of the major bakeries cut back the organic content in their products [and] I thought 'wow maybe I could make a cookie to take their place!'"
The Mexican Snickerdoodle: chocolate, cinnamon, and chilli pepper.
The first treat he came up with was the Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodle. "It seemed natural to combine the [organic and gluten free] cookie with being vegan, making it a great all round cookie that most people could eat... Once we saw the popularity of the Snickerdoodle I thought 'well all good things come in threes', so along came the Hazelnut and Orange Delicious and the GingerNut Deluxe."
Now selling his cookies all over New Zealand, Clayton keeps his sleeves rolled up. "I love what I do, I enjoy what I have created, and strive to always stay present in each part of the process."
Experiments in chocolates and sugar-free delights
With the increase in demand and all the great feedback - including his mum telling him how clever he is ;) - Clayton is looking to widen his product range. He's playing with flavours in fine chocolates, and also working on a sugar-free range of treats.
We'll let you know when they hit Commonsense shelves because personally we can't wait!
Don't forget to sign up for our e-newsletter for specials, new products, articles and more delivered right to your inbox!