Topless Baker – an unashamedly exposed baking project that has turned into a serious brand.
Matt, the man behind Topless Baker, has built a cult following from all over the world from the simple beginnings of his chirpy baking videos of himself on YouTube. He hasn’t been professionally trained, and it is perhaps this lack of conventional conditioning that explains his desire to explore within the baking “pantry”, and sets him apart from others in this area.
Indeed, the idea of Topless Baking may sound bizarre, but it is this very unique concept that has catapulted Matt into his current position as a much talked-about newbie in the food arena and state of affairs is clearly set to continue. Matt’s videos are halfway between relaxing Friday night comedy and serious tutorials for you to master in order to achieve cakes that will impress anyone.
Over a Cosmopolitan, Matt tells us how we went from office clerk to sugar-sweet stardom
What did you have for dinner last night?
I went out for dinner and I had 3 courses (!) – cheese soufflé, rack of lamb and a chocolate brownie!
Topless Baking. We like how it gets people talking, which essentially leads to easy marketing. But what was your personal reasoning behind the brand?
The brand is all about making cooking fun and approachable. The topless element is just another way to differentiate myself within the cooking segment and try to add a bit of spice to an area which is otherwise quite intimidating for a lot of people!
You used to work in advertising, how was that experience overall?
It was great, it taught me so much about social media and marketing. I was able to see what brands were doing well, how they were communicating with consumers, what mistakes they were making and ensure I used that knowledge when it came to building my own brand.
When was the turning point when you realised that you were ready to launch your own brand?
I wouldn’t really say there was a distinct pivotal moment, it was definitely a process. When I started it wasn’t even really a brand, just an idea, but my following has grown and I’ve been able to develop the brand to the point where it has a clear tone of voice and point of view.
What are the difficulties of building your business?
As an influencer, there is a lot more to take on that you otherwise would’ve thought you’d have to do! From HR, to filing accounts etc etc, there is admin and organisation behind the scenes rather than just making content 24/7!
What do you enjoy most about Topless Baking?
I love the reaction it gets from people. Seeing the messages I get and the inspiration I’ve been able to provide is an amazing feeling. When I started I never thought in a million years people would take to it so quickly, but they’ve been able to really get to know me as a person and show me so much support.
At the moment, what is your day-to-day role?
I currently focus my full time attention on Topless Baker. I am usually planning recipes or coming up with content ideas for the coming week, looking at opportunities for collaboration and answering emails!
Can you tell us something behind your baking videos that we don’t see?
We have a really small set up. I film in my business partner’s flat in London, we have two simple lights, my cameraman (who is also my business partner) and then a lapel microphone plugged into my iPhone to record audio! We keep it very efficient, very low key!
What’s your favourite drink (alc & non-alc)?
Non Alcohol: Chocolate Milk
What’s the first you do when you arrive in a coffee shop?
Check if they have iced coffee, otherwise I walk out ha!
What’s your most nostalgic dessert to make and why?
Lemon tart – it was my favourite recipe of my dad’s growing up and the first thing I taught myself to bake. It was really the first dessert I actually got right and that gave me the confidence to go on this journey.
What’s your ideal breakfast?
Poached eggs on toast with crispy bacon. And an Iced latte on the side!
Did you train in a bakery school or in your own kitchen? What would you recommend to someone who would like to get into baking?
I tell everyone that I am a ‘Youtube taught chef’ – I have never been to any kind of culinary school and have learned simply from watching other creators online.
Best way to spend a Saturday?
I would wake up late and have a leisurely breakfast. If we were lucky it would be sunny (but not much chance of that in England!) and I would head to the coast with my dog for a dog walk along the beach, have lunch by the sea and head home to crash on the sofa in front of the TV!
Favourite place to chill in London?
If the weather is good I absolutely love going to Hampstead Heath. It’s such a vast green area with ponds too swim in too, you can just get lost in yourself there and forget you were ever in the hustle and bustle of London.
Top 3 favourite cookbooks?
1. Tartine Bread
2. Pastry by Michel Roux
3. Short & Sweet – Dan Lepard
What do you most admire in a baker?
Someone who can tell a story about the food they are cooking. Everyone can follow a recipe and add sugar etc, but if a baker can go beyond the ingredients and entice you in with a story about the recipe, that to me shows utmost skill and knowledge.
How do you best get ideas for your recipes?
Most of them come from Instagram. All the trends seem to pop up on there so I keep a close eye on what people are doing and then create ideas off the back of that.
What are your thoughts on the current clean-eating trend?
It’s not the way I choose to live my lifestyle but everyone has their own choice. Personally I think you should enjoy sugar, cakes, butter etc but lead a balance lifestyle, I don’t think eating a brownie will be the end of the world for your body. But on the flip side I understand people want to live a healthy lifestyle and that’s totally fine too!
Best life advice you’ve been given?
You’ve got to squeeze the lemon! It’s a great mantra for getting the most out of every opportunity.
Favourite thing about Mulgaro?
It’s great to be exposed to recipes and chefs I would otherwise not discover. There’s a lot of cuisines across the site that I’ve never dared to try and recreate so it’s very inspiring to see.
Where are you off to now?
The next planned trip is hopefully Dallas, but otherwise, the supermarket!
Keep up with Topless Baker – @toplessbaker