TWO apprentices from Beechworth Bakery in Echuca have been stars at the Central Region WorldSkills Baking Competition at GOTAFE in Shepparton.
The competition was hot, but third year baking apprentice Ethan Cootes eventually rose to the top winning Gold for the Retail Baking Bread category.
“It was my first competition. I didn’t actually think I would win the thing, but it turns out I’m doing something right,” he said.
Having won the gold medal in the regional competition, Ethan now qualifies to compete at the National WorldSkills competition in Sydney 2018.
Ethan said he is unsure whether he will participate in the national competition because he still has much to learn about the finer points of baking.
“I’ve learnt a lot of skills during my apprenticeship so far. I did not know anything before I came into this. I was just doing it as a job but it turns out I’m alright at it.”
“I’ve decided to stay in baking. I enjoy it, so I’ll see how it goes from here.”
Second year apprentice Kyla Wagner won Silver in the Cake and Pastry division, and said she thoroughly enjoyed the competition.
“You have to love what you do. That’s what its all about,” she said.
Kyla specialises in cakes and decorations, and her dream job is to bake cakes on a cruise ship.
“That way you’d get to holiday all year round. I can’t wait to graduate in December.”
GOTAFE baking trainer Kim Banfield said he enjoyed the competition even though he didn’t get to taste any of the pastries.
“You do have to look after your weight sometimes,” he said.
Kim was the convenor of this year’s regional competition, which he said was one of the biggest he has seen in a long time.
“The competition was fantastic.
‘‘The event has probably doubled in size since our last regionals were held in 2015.”
Kim said there was a lot of talent in regional Victoria going unnoticed, and tournaments were the best way to get them exposure.
“It’s hard to encourage our bakers to attend national tournaments. They’re very good with their hands, but they’re not confident. I’m trying to slap them on the back, encourage them to practise and get out there. It’s free entry, so what do you have to lose?”