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News & Press: Member News

Macleans Bakery to reveal the secrets of their success on TV

19 May 2020   (0 Comments)
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Family run Maclean’s Bakery in the Outer Hebrides are to feature in a BBC Alba series revealing their success in the early days was almost accidental as people started coming into the bakery in the early hours of the morning for a pie.

Brothers, Allan and Ewen Maclean opened Maclean’s Bakery on the Isle of Benbecula in 1987, and it’s grown to become one of the largest private businesses in the Western Isles.

Allan says he and Ewen knew nothing about baking before starting the business, and in the early days word spread about the new food outlet in the middle of the islands, particularly at the weekends when the pubs closed and dances finished.

Allan said: “We used to work nightshift at that time and someone started coming in once the pubs closed to ask if they could have a pie to eat.

“When you have a few drams you feel hungry, so what better than to stop here and get a pie hot out of the oven. It was perfect timing.

 

“Within a few months it was so busy. One night there were minibuses and a regular bus. You might have about 80 people in the space of a few hours.

“Even if you were busy, you couldn’t refuse them or say the pies had run out because they could see them on the rack.”

It became so popular that Allan was struggling to get his work done to prepare food for the vans leaving at 9am with deliveries so he decided to halt the supply of pies during the night to concentrate on producing food from the bakery as they had originally intended.

This was only one aspect of the business and throughout the years Maclean’s, which is based in Uachdar, has prepared food for many large and small scale events in Uist. Each day, they send every type of cake, oatcake, biscuit and bread all over the Western Isles, but also to every corner of Scotland.

Amongst the services they provide is a busy restaurant called Stepping Stone and a catering trailer which sells fresh local produce and hot food to events all over the islands.

This six-part BBC Alba series shows how the family team manages to juggle everything including real-life drama when Ewen, who has Crohn’s Disease, is rushed to the hospital on the mainland to deal with what could be a life-threatening situation for him, and the family makes the difficult decision to sell the restaurant.

Since these programmes were made, the bakery has closed its take-away due to Coronavirus but they still have their full team of staff working in the bakery. They also continue to provide the community with hot food from their catering trailer.

The Bakery was produced by MacTV for BBC ALBA and is on every Thursday at 8.30pm from May 14 and each episode is available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days after it airs.