When I was at school, I was sent, one day a week, to Tameside College in Manchester. Everyone at my school had to choose from a list of subjects they wanted to do – for example, bakery, hair and beauty etc. I wanted to do drama, but all the spaces had been taken. In fact, the only course that was not full was bakery and that’s how I ended up getting into it.One day a week for two years, I came to college and baked. I really enjoyed it, so when the time came to choose what I wanted to do after school, I naturally wanted to take bakery. It wasn’t something I had considered before, but now I’m so pleased that things turned out this way.As well as doing an NVQ Level 1 in bakery at Tameside College, I also work in an in-store bakery at the weekends. Here, I am gaining experience, different skills and certain responsibilities. Also, when I go to work in the store, I enjoy teaching people what I’ve learned at college.Morrisons supermarkets tend to send a lot of students to Tameside College to do training courses, but this is not what I’m doing. I’m doing NVQ Level 1 full-time this year and will move on to Level 2 next year.At Tameside, we bake every morning, often varying the products; so, one week, we will be making bread, another week making and decorating cakes, and another week we will be making morning goods, for example. Products we bake include French sticks, bloomers, teacakes, croissants, puff pastry, sausage rolls, jam puffs, Eccles cakes, bacon wraps and fruit tarts. We also make sandwiches each day.college bakery shopWhen we’ve finished baking and finishing the goods, they all go to our bakery shop in college, which is called Portland Bakery. Here we sell what we have made during the day. The money goes back into the college and helps to pay for extra equipment, ingredients and suchlike.What’s great about Portland Bakery is that the other students and teachers in the college buy what we have made. Even people that do not go to the college can come in and buy bakery goods and they’re often a lot cheaper than in an average bakery. It would be nice if more ingredients suppliers and machinery suppliers got involved in our college.Recently, three of us won a California Raisins competition and a trip to Switzerland. We’d love it if other companies were to get involved in this way. We want to enter more competitions, because they are great fun and can be extremely rewarding.I love bakery and would recommend it to any school leaver. n
Bakery chain Dunkin’ Donuts is to launch a new Oven-Toasted menu in the US, in a bid to claim a share of the toasted sandwich market.The flatbread sandwiches, toasted throughout the day, will come in three flavours. Personal Pizzas, meaning that consumers can choose their own toppings, will also appear on the Oven-Toasted menu, as will Hash Browns.To introduce the menu 3,500 Dunkin’ Donuts’ shops are receiving new cooking ovens that will also enable the chain to serve warm and lightly toasted bakery items such as muffins and croissants.
Greggs has appointed Ken McMeikan – currently retail director at Sainsbury’s – to be chief executive of the group. He will join the board of the bakery giant on June 1.Sir Michael Darrington will retire at the end of July after 24 years as managing director of Greggs but will remain on the board as a non-executive director. Announcing McMeikan’s appointment, Greggs chairman Derek Netherton said: “When we began the process to find a successor to Mike Darrington we recognised that he would be an extremely hard act to follow. We are therefore delighted to have found in Ken McMeikan a person with the right mix of abilities and personal qualities to lead the business in the next stage of its development.”Netherton added that McMeikan’s “considerable retailing experience” would “greatly complement the skills and expertise that already exist within the Greggs senior team”.McMeikan, 42, joined Sainsbury’s in 2005 after a short period as chief executive of Tesco Japan. Previously he had spent 14 years in operational roles with Tesco, becoming chief executive of the Europa Foods convenience store business following its acquisition in 2002, with responsibility for integrating it into the Tesco Express format.Netherton also paid tribute to Sir Michael for “his outstanding contribution to the considerable growth and development of the business over the last 25 years, and particularly for his strong and unflagging leadership”.Sir Michael welcomed McMeikan’s appointment and said his experience would “prove particularly relevant and helpful in progressing the development of Greggs as a much more unified and customer-focused national brand”.
Patisserie Valerie is to franchise its offering to overseas markets following a deal that has established a franchise agent in the Middle East.The first Middle Eastern store will appear next year, followed by “an aggressive roll-out of 15 stores in three years,” said Paul May, MD of Patisserie Holdings, part of private equity group Risk Capital Partners, which bought a majority stake in Patisserie Valerie in 2006.“Our (undisclosed) partner in the Middle East is a very big operator with 4,500 employees, so, slowly but surely we’re going to start building that side of the business,” said May. “It’s a business that has a great brand and we want to grow and protect that brand.”Talks are now under way to pursue similar ventures in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong, while there are long-term plans to take the brand to the US. In March, May revealed to British Baker that Patisserie Holdings, which also owns 40-shop Midlands-based patisserie chain Druckers, was targeting a total of 125 Patisserie Valerie stores in the UK, growing it from the current 12 stores, within three to five years. This would be via a mix of new store openings and conversion of some of its Druckers-branded outlets, which it acquired last year. None of the UK outlets will be franchised.
What can it do?The SelfCooking Center can bake anything from bread to pizza or cakes at the touch of a button. It is claimed to cook up to 15% faster than conventional combi-steamers, saving both time and money. Comment from the manufacturer:Vic Brown, managing director of Rational UK, says: “Whatever the skill level of the staff, consumers still expect great quality from the bakery. They also expect to be able to buy both traditional and new exciting products.”—-=== What’s on the market: ===Name of the range:Lincat Opus Combi Steamers in two specification ranges: SelfCooking Centers and CombiMastersPrice range: from £6,233 for the 6-grid electric CombiMaster to £31,661 for the 40-grid gas Opus SelfCooking CenterStockist/contact: www.lincat.co.uk or call 01522 875500 Comment from the manufacturer:Nick McDonald, marketing director, says: “The latest generation of Opus SelfCooking Centers eliminate limescale, monitor usage and prompt the user to operate the self-cleaning process when needed. This can be set to operate out of hours and saves energy.”—-=== What’s on the market: ===Name: Leventi Combi-steam oven – Bakermat rangePrice: List prices start at £7,950Stockist/contact: www.valera.co.uk or call 0845 270 4321 Comment from the manufacturer:Kurran Gadhvi, marketing manager at Valera, says: “These are the first ovens to come with RFID (wireless technology). All programmes can be stored on a credit card-sized programmer. This is great for users with more than one oven, as programmes can be replicated using the card and even shared with colleagues in another part of the country.” How does it work?The Leventi Bakermat is fully programmable by the user, but also has special bake-off programmes. The Bakermat Mastermind is suitable for those wanting pre-programmed settings, while the Bakermat Digital enables operators to operate their own bake-off settings. It is available in 4, 6, 8 or 12-tray models. Why should bakery retailers buy it?The cavity size is Euronorm 60 x 40, meaning they are 40% larger than a standard gastronorm oven. This enables larger numbers of long items, such as baguettes, and large items, such as pizzas, to be baked-off at a time. The Leventi Bakermat uses no water in stand-by mode, making it environmentally friendly. A combi-oven can hardly be accused of being a one-trick pony, unless said pony is capable of carrying out an array of different cooking tasks. For bakery retailers wanting to offer a range of different products, from bake-off pasties to pizzas and quiches, a combi oven is certainly capable of doing the job.There are a range of different options available depending on the size of your operation and the volume of goods you require the oven for.”Pre-programmed recipes available mean that the combi can automatically bake products consistently, even when they are unfamiliar to the baker,” says Vic Brown, MD of Rational UK.Versatility is also a strong selling point. Combi steamers are becoming more popular in bakeries, says Brown, as they can bake, steam, roast, poach and even toast. For operations wanting to offer a bakery option or for small craft bakers wanting to add new products to their lunchtime menu, combi ovens could be the answer.—-=== What’s on the market: ===Name: Rational SelfCooking CenterList price: gas – £13,700 + VAT;electric – £11,410Stockist/contact: www.rational-uk.com or call 0800 389 2944 What can it do?The combi can be used to roast, steam, boil and even grill, so it can undertake the work of several separate pieces of equipment. For retail bakers who produce pies, pasties, sandwiches or snacks, this can be a critical advantage. It is suitable for both baking-off or baking fresh dough products. Why should bakery retailers buy it?Most bakers have a limited amount of space, so if they are investing in new equipment it needs to do as many jobs as possible. Rational’s new CareControl system, designed for the SelfCooking Center also cuts energy use and can reduce running and servicing costs by hundreds of pounds a year. What can it do?It is suitable for baking bread or other bake-off products where dough is the main ingredient. Programmable manually or via a laptop, this oven can also be programmed wirelessly. How does it work?It has a variety of bakery-specific features, including a baking mode and bake-off programmes. Equipment with precise controls and programmes, such as the SelfCooking Center, have been developed to ensure the best possible quality results. For bread or rolls, cakes or biscuits, with or without proving, fresh or frozen, full or partial load, you only need to select the browning you require, from light to dark. How does it work?If baking from fresh dough, for example, simply select ’Prove and bake’ – the SelfCooking Center does the rest. A combi steamer combines dry heat and controlled humidity to produce first-class results. The ability to add moisture into the baking process results in a perfect glazed finish for baked goods. Why should bakery retailers buy it?Opus combi steamers are claimed to save time and money. For example, ’Level Control’, monitors the cooking time for each shelf and alerts the user when the product is ready.
Winner: Kensey FoodsLaunceston, CornwallSamworth Brothers subsidiary Kensey Foods makes premium chilled desserts and quiches, mainly for Tesco and Cadbury. With 800 employees and a £63m turnover, Kensey produces on a huge scale, but still maintains its ethos of quality and craftsmanship, says managing director Des Kingsley. Ingredients are sourced locally wherever possible, and everything is made from scratch.Kingsley cites the company’s focus on training and rewarding its staff as providing the perfect environment for quality and innovation. “We’ve invested heavily in our premises and our people and that’s reflected in our products.”The judges agreed, adding that, even in this strong category, Kensey had had an exceptional year in terms of product quality and innovation, launching 20 new products, including the innovative Cadbury Hot Eating puddings, and implementing a lot of volunteer and charity work in the community.Finalist: New PrimebakeNantwich, CheshireNew Primebake is the UK’s largest supplier of frozen, chilled and ambient speciality breads into the major multiples. Its best-selling product is its garlic bread, but it also produces slices, flatbreads, dough balls and bites. It employs 800 staff and has a £55m turnover.”Our original bakery always had a dedicated craft area,” says Mark Jones, production director, “but as the market expanded, we saw the need to open an entire facility to service it.”Now, all handcrafted flatbreads and tear-and-share lines are produced out of the company’s new, £6m Crewe site. “We’ve freed up space for product development and given ourselves all-round greater capacity, plus the ability to promote new products,” says Jones. “I believe this was a well thought-out project, which enables us to enter and service new markets.”Finalist: Greencore Cakes & Desserts HullGreencore manufactures Christmas, celebration and novelty cakes, as well as slab and teatime cakes, cheesecakes and hot puddings. It is predominantly a private-label business, but also produces licensed cakes and supplies own-label goods to three major multiples.The majority of the firm’s products feature a craft element, including handpiping and modelling such as hand-modelled flowers on its Tesco’s Finest Christmas Cake. Graham Burley, site operations director, says the company’s strength lies in the breadth of its product range and its truly collaborative approach. “We have dedicated account teams for all our major clients, and we work together to build their category,” she says. “And we’re never afraid to go back to basics to do the right thing for the consumer if research shows something isn’t right, we’ll rip it up and start again.”
Don Williams, CEO of brand and design consultancy Pi Global, bewails bad statistics”There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Damned right! Everyone knows that statistics are usually unreliable, agenda-ridden and often total bobbins. Of course, if a baker stocks 100 brown loaves and 100 white loaves and, every day, he sells all the white ones and half the brown ones, he knows that the white loaves are twice as popular as the brown.The problem arises when researchers and statisticians try to create a science of hugely complex and often intangible situations and the resulting nonsense is used to support weak arguments or obfuscate the truth. Research is unfortunately compelling for one very simple reason: it’s a huge facilitator in a decision-making process and a career safety net. If you make a bad decision based on research results, you can blame the inexplicable research. If you make a bad decision based on your experience and nous, there’s nowhere to hide so research can be a convenient crutch.There’s nothing wrong with research per se it can be very valuable. But there is something wrong with bad research. Asking consumers dumb questions about likes and dislikes, probing them and forcing them to rationalise the irrational is not just daft, it’s irresponsible and can result in major brand damage and financial disaster.I have sat through groups where consumers have been encouraged to design packaging there are even research techniques that revolve around this concept. Does anyone in their right mind believe consumers understand how a piece of packaging has to function on the battlefield that is a supermarket at three metres from the fixture, 1.5 metres in the hand, in the home? But ask them whether they like red or what they think of the picture or whether they like the logo or 200 other inane questions and you can be certain they will have answers. After all, they’ve been fed and watered in a cosy little room with a few bob thrown in for good measure and they don’t want to look stupid.In my view, the resulting data from exercises like this is all-but-useless in the real world and unless you get as close to real world environments, you cannot hope to gain any worthwhile knowledge. Look at the 1985 New Coke debacle, for example: Pepsi was winning the ’cola war’ and taste test after taste test, when Coke decided to launch a new high-fructose corn syrup to get closer to the Pepsi sweetness. What they didn’t take into account was that the short-term sweetness experienced in a sip test/focus group situation was very different to the long-term, real-world experience of living with the product every day. So the research was fundamentally flawed.When you consider that well over 90% of new product launches fail, most of which are presumably researched to death, you have to question the standard of research methodology.We need a sea change to provide us with a more pragmatic, common-sense approach to consumer understanding, based on what they do, rather than what they say they do.
’Childhood’ contestUK participants in the Amoretti 2010 World Pastry Team Championship in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, in July, will be captained by Javier Mercado, from Westminster Kingsway College. The subject of this year’s Championship is ’Childhood’, conveyed through the use of chocolate, sugar and pastillage. Team GB will be using pallets donated by supplier Unifine Food & Bake Ingredients.Campden BRI head Lord Krebs is the new president of Campden BRI, as announced at its annual general meeting in June. He succeeds The Lord Plumb of Coleshill who held the title from 1998. Lord John Krebs was formerly the chair of the Food Standards Agency and is currently principal of Jesus College, Oxford.Regional challengeYorkshire and Humber is looking for food and drink companies in the region to enter the 2010 deliciouslyorkshire awards. There are 19 awards categories, including a new addition the Export Award. Deadline for entries is 6 August. See www.deliciouslyorkshire.co.uk/awards.UKBA raids bakerySeven people have been arrested following a UK Border Agency raid on a bakery in Hayes. Acting on intelligence, officers visited Dalton Bakeries on Beaconsfield Road on 10 June and arrested six Indian men and one Sri Lankan man for a variety of immigration offences.Sunblest overhaul Allied Bakeries’ Sunblest brand has undergone a packaging revamp to boost on-shelf visibility, featuring transparent film and a new strapline, ’Raised with Sunblest’. The Belfast-based brand revealed it saw a strong performance last year, selling 16m packs.
“During the recession consumers have reduced the frequency of eating out, which has boosted home cooking and get-togethers with family and friends,” said the company, citing Mintel research, which showed that 30% of consumers lack the confidence and skill to cook desserts from scratch. Macphie group commercial director Ronnie Leggett said: “DeviliShh is an exciting example of product and brand innovation taking us into the consumer brands arena for the first time. Celebrity chefs and TV shows like ‘Come Dine With Me’ have broadened many people’s horizons and encouraged them to experiment in the kitchen.” Scottish bakery ingredients manufacturer Macphie of Glenbervie has launched its first-ever consumer brand as it looks to double its turnover to £80m in the next 10 years. The DeviliShh range of puddings, fruit coulis and sweet sauces have been launched to tap into the burgeoning entertaining at-home market, said Macphie. The pudding range comprises panna cotta, crème caramel and crème brûlée, while the sauces include chocolate and caramel. Mango and raspberry make up the coulis range. Macphie has launched a sampling campaign to support the launch, attending food festivals such as the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham.
With judging on British Baker’s National Cupcake Championships under way, along comes a cupcake-maker with a product that has a distinctly synthetic aftertaste and a disclaimer that “the product is not edible”. The Bath Cakery is not a cakery in Bath, but rather one with a strapline, ’Have your cake and bathe in it!’ Yes, for cupcake fans it’s a cake to rub on one’s body in the privacy of the bathroom, without a nagging sense of guilt.www.thebathcakery.com