Petworth is a beautiful town in West Sussex – one of my favourite spots. It has a pretty peacefulness and with the looming shape of Petworth House and its walled gardens, makes you feel like you might have just stepped back in time.
We found ourselves there on a sunny day last week to meet Troels Bendix and his partner Giovanna (side note…Giovanna Ticciati, the renowned and uber talented interior designer who was lovely enough to chat with us in her Petworth shop – I was in interiors heaven!). Troels is a wonderfully kind man who also happens to be a super talented chef and master baker.
Having moved from Denmark a number of years ago to work in The Sugar Club London, Troels then went on to set up his own bakery – Breads Etcetera. After discovering the charms of Petworth, he co-founded the renowned deli and kitchens of The Hungry Guest. I can vouch for just how scrummy their BBQ sauce is…amongst other treats! The Hungry Guest won deli of the year two years in a row and Troels prize-winning recipes were at the centre of it.
Fast-forward to late summer of 2015 and sadly Troels was in a huge accident whilst out on his bike which left him in a coma with months and months of rehabilitation ahead of him. Amazingly, he is back in the kitchen. It seems like Troels isn’t satisfied without a challenge on the go and a new venture to explore so he has begun a new business in the kitchen of his home in Petworth.
SØDT (pronounced ‘soot’), which means ‘sweet’ in Danish, is the result of his creativity. It’s all about that home-baked hygge and making good quality pastries available in your own home. Troels has spent months developing his recipes, all of which originate from traditional Danish methods, so that the pastries freeze well and then bake from frozen perfectly. This little pastry club is beginning to serve the community of Petworth and beyond – you can order whatever quantity of whichever pastry you so crave and then pick up the frozen product ready to wow your guests at breakfast. It is as simple as popping the pastries in a heated oven or aga for 20 minutes and then sitting back to enjoy the smell of home baking wafting through the house!
We were treated to a plate full of pastries to try which obviously Phil was more than happy to help test. From bite size Flade Kanelsnegle (flaky cinnamon swirls) to Te-birkes (poppy seed bites), these pastries have been made with care and experience. It’s hard to imagine that Troels actually couldn’t remember how to bake after his accident and has teaching himself all over again. Clearly he is a man of enormous skill – the pastries were delicious and we will certainly be picking up a bag for the freezer next time we are passing through.
There was something innately peaceful sitting in Troels kitchen chatting about baking, cooking, life in Sussex and life in Denmark. We felt instantly at ease which is testament to Troels kind warmth. We were even sent off with a loaf of his Rugbrød – a wholegrain rye bread which smells incredible and tastes even better. Troels makes it to an adapted version of his grandmother’s recipe and I can safely say it is the best, most flavoursome rye that I have eaten – we’ve been enjoying it every day this week!
I certainly can’t wait to see how SØDT takes off over the coming months – do look out for them at farmers’ markets and of course, online. Grab a bag of pastries, I promise you won’t be disappointed!