After five years spent travelling the world as an army officer, Rawlinson decided to settle down in North Yorkshire with his wife – to start a family, and launch a business that he had dreamed about since childhood. In 2012, Baltzersen’s opened in central Harrogate – a cafe where Yorkshire-sourced ingredients meet Scandinavian inspiration. Locals and tourists alike were soon hooked on the homemade smörgåsbord of delights that Rawlinson and his team had to offer. Be it open sandwiches with meatballs or pickled herring, pølse street food sausages, lapskaus meat and potato stew, or traditional heart-shaped Scandi waffles (prepared on irons imported from Trondheim). All that, and enough cinnamon buns to feed a battalion – Baltzersen’s bakes and sells some 10,000 of the icing-swirled delights every year.
How did Rawlinson’s time in the army, which saw him serve in Afghanistan among other places, prepare him for his new life serving food in a spa town near the Yorkshire Dales? Better than you might imagine, it turns out. “In many ways, they’re fairly similar,” Rawlinson says, of the military and the hospitality industry. “When you go to Sandhurst, you’re training to be a leader and what I do in my job now is lead people. I was an engineering officer, and I guess engineering is about designing processes and trying to make things as efficient as you can.”
This training certainly came into its own when lockdown hit – how could they adapt? Rawlinson and some of his staff launched a major operation to keep the business running online. A small independent business such as Baltzersen’s could well have feared for its future – especially as it had just put the finishing touches to a new off-site bakery, an expansion designed to allow it to bake its own bread among other things. But in adversity Rawlinson sensed opportunity for a new initiative.