Tucked away in one of the Cedar Units at Shinners Bridge in Dartington is The Almond Thief.

The bakery was founded in 2014 by former biologist Dan Mifsud and the name was inspired by his Mediterranean grandfather who used to steal nuts in his youth.

The business is now owned by Zhivomir Vangelov (38).

In his native Bulgaria Zhivomir had struggled to find work so around eight years ago, pre-Brexit he packed his bags to try his luck in England starting off in Bristol.

He had a number of different jobs.

He explains: “I wanted to find something I really like so I took my time.

“I found it by chance as my ex-girlfriend’s sister worked here and she introduced me to Dan, the previous owner, I did a couple of shifts and he hired me.

“When I started at the bakery it was very easy to fit in.

“Everyone was very welcoming and I just felt this was my place.”

Behind the counter Anna Young and Ella Fraser
(Richard Harding)

Zhivomir explained the ethos of the bakery: “We are working to become fully organic.

“At the moment we are 95 per cent organic.

“We do pastries and bread which is sour dough.

“Our range includes Portuguese Pasteis de Nata, pains au chocolat and spiced fruit buns with raisins.

The baking usually starts at 6am in the morning, earlier on Saturday and the shop and cafe opens at 9am Tuesday to Saturday.

The Almond Thief is one of the winners of the prestigious La Liste 2024 Pastry Awards which recognised more than 3,000 pastry shops worldwide including almost 200 in the UK.

Zhivomir said: “I’m very happy because I did not expect anything like that.

“It’s what the people here do.

“If they weren’t as professional as they are we wouldn’t have won.

‘I suppose people just like us and we try to make something of good quality and this is the recognition.”

“It was really a surprise and I definitely did not expect that.

“It was one of the first times they included pastries.

Owner Zhivomir Vangelov
(Richard Harding)

Zhivomir then explained his ideas for the future: “We plan to introduce more pastries and more different kinds of bread.

“We hope to start rotating things and not just have the same things everyday which will mean introducing maybe five or six new recipes.

“We have the premises here and a franchise in Plymouth (on the site of Sir Francis Drake’s house in Looe Street) but we hope to open a new cafe either in Kingsbridge or Salcombe within the next year and a half.

“We also have our own mill here and the idea is to mill 100 per cent of the flour we use.”

The freshly baked pastries and bread
(Richard Harding)

They are part of a growing movement of sustainable food producers who are taking control of processing their products to develop local and resilient food networks.

They have formed their own supply chain of local farmers and producers

Zhivomir added: “At the end of each day we give all our unsold bread away to the local foodbank.”