Bread connoisseurs from all over New Zealand are clamouring to buy one artisan bakery’s ciabatta products – but for the time being, you’ll need to visit Rotorua to buy them for yourself.

Demand for Ciabatta Bakery’s products has increased dramatically in the past year, prompting owner/operator Alex Bürge to expand his one-man enterprise. He now employs 12 staff and has had to open larger premises, just to keep up with local appetites. The Swiss-born baker’s reputation has quickly grown after he began producing what is believed to be the world’s longest ciabatta bread – the “Long Dog”- which is a whopping 43 centimetres in length.

Most Rotorua cafes and restaurants now stock Ciabatta Bakery’s products and they can also be found at shops throughout the wider Bay of Plenty. “Everyone wants our bread,” Bürge says. “We have had several requests from Auckland and across New Zealand for our products but at the moment we are focusing on servicing our existing clients across the central North Island.”

All Ciabatta Bakery breads, Streusels and Berliners (donuts) are made using traditional methods and Bürge’s factory operates around the clock, closing for just two days a year. “We have also developed our own line of Swiss Dressings which we sell at Rotorua’s markets and various retail outlets around theBay ofPlenty and we are in the process of developing other lines in our Swiss product range such as Swiss Herb Butter and Swiss Seasonings.”

Bürge is the former senior lecturer at Rotorua’s Wairiki Institute of Technology, where he spent 16 years teaching bakery, patisserie and cookery. He never wanted to give up teaching but it was his love for bread making that inspired him to open his own bakery last year.

Now that his new enterprise is up and running, Bürge has begun offering monthly artisan bakery courses at his Fenton Park factory, which are ideal for corporate team-building. Up to 14 students can spend the day in a hands-on, interactive environment, learning how to make a wide range of sweet and savoury breads which are then shared with guests at a celebratory dinner. Advanced courses offering a more comprehensive one-and-a-half day experience are also available and during these Bürge explains the science behind successful artisan bread making, including developing sour dough cultures.

Destination Rotorua Marketing general manager Oscar Nathan says Ciabatta Bakery is not only a successful commercial enterprise, but offers visitors to Rotorua another unique experience when exploring the central North Island. “Rotorua is full of hidden delights and what better way to end a car journey fromAuckland or elsewhere than to visit one ofNew Zealand’s most sought-after bakeries. I can assure you it’s well worth the trip!”

Ciabatta Bakery has just launched a new lunch menu featuring the Swiss products range and is open to the public from 9:30am until 3:30pm Monday to Friday, and from 9:30am until 1pm on Saturdays. Visit 38 White Street, Fenton Park, or phone (07) 348 3332.


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