A Christchurch artisan baker won the 2022 Young Bread Baker of the Year award after two days of demanding theory and practical tests.
Emily Baillie, baker at Bohemian Bakery in Christchurch, received a $10,000 research grant from the New Zealand Bakers Association. Runner-up is Mike Malloy of Quality Bakers Auckland, who receives a $5,000 research grant
Emily, a 20-year-old baker in the third year of her apprenticeship, produces breads and cakes at Bohemian Bakery’s two locations in Christchurch. Originally from Hokitika on the west coast, where she began her apprenticeship at Stone Oven Bakery, she Emily moved to Christchurch to broaden her experience. She says that working with people of many different nationalities at Bohemian Bakery is a good way to learn different styles and skills, and her diverse backgrounds are reflected in the bakery’s products.
Emily found out about the Young Baker of the Year Competition through her NZ Bakels representative. “I told her if she thought she could do it, she would put me on,” Emily says. She spent time working on her theoretical knowledge and doing practical training with a NZ Bakels tutor. She says that she loves a challenge and learning new ways of doing things, and the competition was the perfect place for her to do just that.
“Winning the competition will really boost my career and open a lot of new doors for me. The research grant will give me the opportunity to learn much more about the science behind the techniques and the ingredients that are part of the industry in which I am passionate about expanding my knowledge.”
The judging coordinator, Tania Watson, says that Emily won because she did well in both the theoretical and practical parts. “We invite her back next year for her to try out for representative at the 2024 Los Angeles Judges Competition in Australia.”
Runner-up Mike Malloy, production manager at Quality Bakers in Auckland, entered the competition to challenge himself to maintain his practical baking skills and the chance to network with the other competitors. Mike says that he will use his research grant to find bakeries and bake in other places. “I’m really interested in seeing plant bakeries abroad and the latest products.”
The competition requires participants to demonstrate their skill in three areas: a presentation on a given research topic, a 90-minute exam that tests their theoretical knowledge of baking technology, and a five-hour hands-on session in which they bake a variety of of breads based products
Judging coordinator Tania Watson says the goal of the competition is to find potential bakers whose talents can be nurtured through mentoring and development opportunities, and to reward the best young baker in the country. “It is always good to have both factory and artisan bakeries represented, as they bring different strengths to the competition. This year four artisan bakers and two factory bakers participated. We were pleased to have bakers from diverse backgrounds and a variety of nationalities.”
Judges Joe Jarkiewicz, Grant Inns, Nathan Roberts and Tania Watson said they like to see competitors display confidence in their work. “They must also be well organized and have a clean and tidy workspace,” says Joe Jarciewicz, “as well as an awareness of their surroundings and the ability to work as a team. They need to communicate with each other to share kitchen equipment and ovens. They need to get the basics right and demonstrate skills like hand shaping and scaling. Ultimately, the finished products have to be really good.”
The judges said they were generally impressed with the standard of the products. The competitors worked well together in the bakery and were calm and methodical in their approach. Grant Inns says the competition is an opportunity for competitors to meet, network and advance their baking careers.
The Young Baker of the Year Competition is sponsored by the New Zealand Bakers Association and is designed to promote excellence in people emerging from their training.
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