Friends of mine have spoken of the legend that is Tulio Retyk and his wonderful produce and wondered what had happened to him. A couple of weeks back, we noticed that a new bakery, Il Cornetto had opened on Republic Road, Darrenwood, Johannesburg. We went in and met the charming, rugged faced Tulio Retyk and his business partner Angus Leach. Angus is a trained pastry chef, who went on to teach himself to cook, and worked as a private chef to the great and good.
Tulio is Argentinian and has worked in Europe. His baked goods reflect his experiences.
I talked to him about his life…
What attracted you to bread baking in the first place?
Well, when I started working in my Dad’s bakery I was four or five years old; was rolling bread and croissants standing up on a wooden box that my grandfather put there for me. I’m the last one of a 13 (maybe more) generations of bakers that started in Austria and Poland. I worked with my dad until I took a different path and dedicated myself to journalism and one day the blood call and went back to baking for good.
Where did you learn how to bake?
In my Dad’s bakery
Who do you regard as your baking mentor?
I have a few: first and the more important and the best was my dad, he knew it all; the man was a wonderful father, a good friend, and the best teacher that somebody could dream to have. Also, will like to mention Patrick Fouchon, one of the master bakers that step this world. I worked with him in France.
What is it about baking, and bread in particular, that really resonates with you?
For me baking means family, I remember working on my dad and grandads side having tea or Maté (Argentinean tea) and baking all day long. They were telling stories that today I can relate to. Also, friends were visiting and had a good time. Like today my old customers from Linden coming back to me. It was a wonderful thing to see them all again. That is why baking attracts and resonates me.
Why do you think that sourdough has had such resurgence in the past few years?
In 2005 when I opened “The Bakery of Buenos Aires” in Linden and started to make sourdough bread, using the technique that my grandad used in Europe before and after the first world war, when there was no yeast, people started buying that bread and came back complaining that the bread was tasting wrong, like off. I tried to explain to them but with no success. So I’m very happy that people have accepted this way of baking because it was the only way long ago. Sourdough baking became a trend and now everyone is doing it. I refuse to do what others do, so I will add my own signature and I am working on that.
How did it feel when you realised you didn’t need to knead bread for a long time in order to produce a good loaf?
It was nice to learn the way; you don’t need to knead but it is still a long process if you do it correctly. You have different kinds of fermentation: bulk fermentation and slow fermentation. Bulk fermentation will activate the process and slow fermentation will give the sour taste. Did not see many that do it the right way.
Do you enjoy teaching people to bake?
I’m not a good teacher because I’m passionate about what I do, so that is a problem in terms of teaching because not everyone sees it like you.
What are some of the most surprising things you have learnt from teaching people how to bake bread?
I taught a guy from Zimbabwe and today he owns a bakery. That is the best that can happen to you
What are some of the most common mistakes that people make when they are starting to make bread for the first time?
The mistakes come from a lack of patience; baking have their process and own time so the most common is the proofing of the loaf, others add more yeast to speed up and with that they are changing the texture and taste. With the sourdough it is also shortening time, not respecting the way to do. One of the first things that I tell to the newbies is to put all the ingredients on the table before start to weight for dough, in that way will never forget to put an ingredient into the dough.
Which do you feel are the easiest loaves to make and which are the hardest?
Each loaf has a different complexity and more when you use flour with low content of gluten or with no gluten at all. So for me is no easiest or hardest because I have the experience of the years in this trade. For a newcomer I guess that the easiest will be the plain white bread and the hardest Rye Bread or a proper Brioche (without water or milk).
Do you think there will be new trends in terms of bread?
Do you think we are over sourdough now or are there new things we can do with it? I think that there always will be different ways to do bread. But bread is bread: flour, salt, sugar for balance, yeast and water. You can add spices; infuse butter, oil, mashed potatoes, pap, tomatoes, spinach, etc. But the base will be always the same. I don’t think that we are over sourdough; will be changes. People will start to mill the own flour at home, so you can combine the different wheats from various places and make the percentage of protein suits your needs.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Obviously, everything. It’s something else, or you have it or you don’t and that is the passion for create new things with the same ingredients and if you know when you started it will shorten the way.
What do you like to eat most?
Asado (Argentinean braai)
What’s your least Favourite Food?
Do you have a childhood, Mom or Gran food memory?
The sausages of my Granny and the Strudel of my Mom.
What is your morning routine?
Wake up 03:00 hrs dress and going to the bakery. Put the coffee machine on, the music of my phone in the blue tooth speaker and start to work. When the machine ready a nice Espresso and following a Cappuccino, “Glorious”.
What is your Desert-Island Disc [one song only if possible]?
Mothership the album, Stairways to Heaven the song of Led Zeppelin.
A glass of Dom Perignon (actually two flutes) for 50 Euros a flute.
And a 10 litre bottle of Merlot in Villiera Wine Estate in Stellenbosch for my birthday that I drank with my wife in two days.
Your key Wardrobe Item?
My chef’s jacket.
Talent you would like to have.
Play the guitar
Today: The life of Flavio Josefo
Routine after baking?
Relaxing with music, headphones on
I’m currently working on….
Sourdough new flavours
My favourite weekend getaway is….
Kruger National Park
A good glass of Argentinian Malbec
One day, I will….
Write a book
Human being (Journalist, License in Social Communication, Baker, Chef)
358 Republic Road
Tulio and Angus also produce Pizzas from their Pizza Oven in the afternoon.
Weekly opening hours:
Sunday : 08:00-12:00
Telephone +27 71 351 1734
For further information – CLICK HERE