It was an unfortunate event that triggered the rebirth of Holey Artisan Bakery. On 1 July 2016, Nasirul Alam Porag received a devastating phone call from Dhaka, Bangladesh
It was an unfortunate event that triggered the rebirth of Holey Artisan Bakery. On 1 July 2016, Nasirul Alam Porag received a devastating phone call from Dhaka, Bangladesh. His cafe named Holey Artisan Bakery was attacked by ISIS terrorists, leaving 28 people dead.
For over 16 years, Nasirul kept his chalkboard-sized sourdough starter alive and fermented, and he brought it to Bangkok to open his second bakery in June 2017. The brutal massacre did not stop Nasirul moving forward; it was a stepping stone to push him to start another bakery specialising in sourdough bread.
Known to be an artisan bakery, Holey Bread Bakery uses different manual methods as with the bread-making process. The bakery focuses on three basic ingredients; flour, water, and salt. We sat down with Nasirul, with an ambitious smile who is ready to share his delicious bread, he discusses his visions for his artisanal bakery in Bangkok.
After the July 2016 Dhaka attack, did you think about starting up again at the moment?
When the attack happened I was in Thailand because we just opened Holey Bread in Bangkok and so I was already starting up in a way. After the attack in Dhaka, we moved to a new location within the same neighborhood. However, the new shop is smaller, but we are happy that it has come back to life.
2. What was the trigger to start again?
The taste of my bread definitely pushed me the hardest to start again. My family played such a big part in that, because for me, to be able to put a good loaf of bread onto the table is really important. Also, to provide other people who seek good food such as sourdough bread is something that I really enjoy doing.
3. Sourdough is made from natural leaven called a starter which, alone, takes weeks to make. As opposed to the commercial yeast-based bread that is becoming increasingly popular these days due to its 2 hours (or less) process time, why not take it easier like other bread brands?
I fell in love with sourdough when I first tasted it. In Bangladesh, the bread scene is pretty much similar to here in Bangkok. People love commercial yeast-based sandwich bread which is usually pre-sliced with around 2 weeks of shelf life, and because the process of sourdough requires a long time to make, it is pretty much looked over.
I was into bread at the time and when you have a desire to provide good food to the community and to the people you love, it’s impossible to not do what the heart wants. And because of this I decided to take the hard route. I believe that the time and effort that I put into a single loaf of bread drove me into a realisation that food really should be appreciated more.
4. An artisan is a person who creates things by hand. While more and more food producers today are using machines for mass production in a shorter time, why does the artisanal way matter to you?
It is just for the sake of sensory experience. When you make food with your very own hands, especially with bread that needs to be kneaded and shaped, at the end of the process, you can clearly feel the connection that has been built and eventually become connected to the food you make and eat.
5. What vision did you have for an artisanal bakery in Thailand where popular types of bread tend to be either bland or sweet?
I did not really have a vision in my head because in Bangladesh, initially people did not care for sourdough bread but I was confident in the taste of my produce. When you have something good, you do not need to say much. It is when people try my bread that their tastebuds automatically tell them that this is good bread. That was why I was never worried about introducing a new and unfamiliar type of bread to Thai people.
6. Holey Bread Bakery became popular within the first year of opening. What was the key to success?
The taste of my bread, luck, and risk-taking.
7. Do you have any tips for anyone starting a business in Bangkok?
1. Have confidence in your product
2. Do something exceptional and unique
3. Be confident
4. Be creative in your unique way
Address: 245/12 Sukhumvit Soi 31 Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Telephone: +66 2 101 1427