2PM, THE KITCHEN AND MEETING ROOM AT AL BROWN AND CO HEADQUARTERS, CITY WORKS DEPOT.
Occasionally, there is a cheese roll. Once, Al Brown made choux pastry swans. He draws the line at puddings. Every week, staff take turns baking. “It’s quite controversial,” says Brown. “It’s highly, highly competitive and at times we’ve let it slip for a little bit, just to let people cool off, because people were turning up — Hayden — with desserts, rather than actual baking.” Hayden with the tattoos and beard does a delicate sponge drop. The teapot has a tea cosy. It’s a meeting but also a tea break. “It adds an informality to your business day or your business week, which is a lovely letting-go,” says Brown. “Breathing out, being people, not employees. It’s not just a sweet treat; it’s a sweet moment in time.”