CHEF Kevin Entwistle has taken on a new role in recent months.

To many residents across mid and parts of north Essex the 28-year-old is fast becoming known as the "Huffer Man" thanks to the delicious bread rolls he makes, sells and delivers every week.

What started out as the kernel of an idea has quite literally snowballed into a culinary success which has slightly surprised him and his partner Rebecca Knights.

Enty's Huffers was born just a few months ago after Kevin started to make Essex Huffers, a specifically shaped type of bread linked to the county, at his pub job.

"We were looking to change the sandwich option to make it a bit more interesting and we found a recipe for these Essex Huffers and I decided to try and make them to use for the sandwiches.

"We worked on it and developed it to suit our own needs and they were pretty popular with customers," he explains.

As a result he started to think about whether people would actually want to buy the huffers for use at home.

"I was at home on a day off and thought I would just make some and then I thought I would start taking them to neighbours and offering them for free to get an idea of what people thought of them," says Kevin who lives with Rebecca, known as Bex, and their two small children in Silver End near Witham.

"We got some cards make up, called Rate My Huffer cards, and asked people to give us feedback on them and to tell us if they would consider buying from us if we started making them.

"The response was really positive so for a bit of pocket money I started making them and selling them door to door," he says.

Kevin admits he had no idea how popular the huffers would be.

"I am not really sure where the Essex Huffer came from and why it is linked to the county but you can't get them anywhere else.

"Normal huffers are huge but we have customised them down to a more manageable size. They are a sort of triangular shape and have a bit of sweetness to them.

"It meant in their new size they were more usable for customers as they were better suited to one person," adds Kevin.

He was thrilled to sell 18 in the first week but within just a few more this number had tripled and four months in on average, around 400 of the baked goodies are delivered to hungry customers on a weekly basis.

It means Kevin, who still works part-time in a pub, does a lot of baking.

"On a Monday I make around 230 and then on a Tuesday another 170 so I am up at around 3am.

"It is obviously quite a long process as I have to get all the dough ready, knead it and then it needs to be proved for the first time for three hours.

"Then we take it out and it needs to be proved again for a further hour and a half to give it a nice lift before going into the oven for 15 minutes.

"So it is a six hour process really," he says.

But so far Kevin shows no signs of getting baking fatigue - despite doing it all himself by hand.

"I did have a Kenwood mixer my nan passed down to me, a lovely machine from the sixties.

"It was great to be using that as she she is no longer with us but after three weeks it gave up, I just don't think it could cope with that much use so i carried on just doing it by hand.

"It actually works really well but we have had to adjust over time and the huffers have definitely improved through the months as we tweak things and try other approaches," he says.

Production currently takes place at his mum Caroline Kearney's home in Boreham, Chelmsford.

Once the bread is made and ready to go Kevin delivers it by hand, across Chelmsford, Great and Little Baddow, Braintree, Witham, the Notleys, Coggeshall and of course his home village of Silver End.

They have a core custom base of around 30 to 40 customers and operate the orders via their Facebook page and e-mail.

"At the weekends I will start e-mailing to find out how everyone is and to see if they want any bread that week.

"It is quite a traditional way of doing things and I really like the contact I get with customers. I really wanted to do something that would be good for the community and people love it when I turn up with the bread.

"They will come to the door before I have even got up the path and say 'it's the Huffer Man' and I will often have a chat with them. I know alot of them quite well," says Kevin.

Enty's huffers, taking the first part of Kevin's surname for the brand, are sold in batches of two or more at a cost of £1.20 for two or £2 for four.

Kevin only uses local ingredients including Maldon sea salt, Marriage's flour and free-range eggs.

As well as white and wholemeal varieties he has also recently developed a gluten free version following requests from customers.

"It has taken a while to perfect because obviously in bread it is the gluten that holds it together so I had to keep trying to come up with a bread that was as tasty as the original and not crumbly but I think everyone is pretty pleased with it now."

With customers joining all the time there might soon be need for larger premises and Kevin and Bex, who package each order individually with each customer's name stamped on the front of the bags, have hopes for the future.

"It is quite a rustic approach we have here, down to the handicraft bags, and we would like to build on that.

"I am not really interested in having a bakery with cakes and doughnuts but I would like to have one that specialises in artisan breads.

* Enty's Huffers will be at the Essex Food Festival at Cressing Temple Barns this Saturday and Sunday.

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