The city is full of designer confectionary shops and fancy bakeries that serve all kinds of delicious bakes and desserts, one could only dream of getting in Chennai probably a decade ago. But city’s oldest bakery Smith Field Bakery on the Perambur Barracks (PB) Road in Vepery continues to hold its ground and has been enticing food lovers for more than 125 years. Yes, you have read it right! The place is known for its delicious biscuit varieties, fresh sweet breads, buns, plum cakes and ‘T’ cakes and it uses traditional medium for baking, the natural wood fired ovens. On any given day, if you visit the place during evening, you will see a long queue of customers waiting to get their hands on the goodies. It gets a bulk of business from residents of Perambur, Purasavakkam, Vepery, Royapuram, Washermenpet, Basin Bridge, Elephant Gate and Choolai, what we call the old Madras.
The bakery was established in 1885 by S P Ponnuswamy Naicker and it was named after the first ICS Commissioner of Madras Corporation, E Conran Smith. A separate locality was named after Smith when a British police officers’ housing quarters was opened in 1931, a few hundred metres away from the bakery. After all bakery products and other such indulgences were predominantly carried out by Britishers or Anglo-Indians at that point in time. The bakery has its own slice of history. It is believed that during World War II they used to give free bread to residents because of the shortage of food.
The bakery is now run by S. Rajesh, the great-grandson of Ponnuswamy, who currently owns the shop. He will happily tell you what to pick from the amazing variety of cakes like almond, plum, lemon, strawberry, chocolate and walnut and horse shoe or puffs made of mutton, chicken and egg as well as numerous tantalising cookies and biscuits.
While the patrons continue to visit the place, there has been a slight shortage in production as the bakery faces labour shortage and everything here is made manually.
Next time you are in north Chennai, make it a point to visit this amazing bakery. Here is the location of the bakery : https://her.is/2kktwU9