James Robinson is happy for the proof of his skills to be found in his pudding – or fruit tarts and mince pies.
The Porirua apprentice baker, who works at Windmill Quality Cake Shop under the canopies, has been judged among the top 10 bakers’ trainees in the country, and will compete for the title of New Zealand Weston Milling Trainee of the Year, in Napier in July.
‘‘It’ll be hard, there’s some good apprentices out there but, whether I win or lose, it’s going to be a growing experience.’’
Practice comes with his day-to-day work, starting at 5am each day, though he is also reading up on theory at home.
Mr Robinson began working in a bakery at Woolworths during weekends while at school, and following in the footsteps of a cousin who also trained at Windmill, he jumped at the chance for an apprenticeship. He is now nearing the end of the threeand-a-half years of training.
‘‘I’ve just always enjoyed it. I like that you can bake something amazing from nothing. I like the basic stuff like the breads and cake decoration – pretty much all of it, it’s a lot of fun. I’d like to move into sugar sculptures, but that’s way into the future.’’
The competition’s top 10 finalists were decided from a sample of apple pies, coffee buns and cheese scones sent in for judging and Mr Robinson says he’s pleased his work was marked highly. He gives credit to his mentors at Windmill who have also placed highly in national trainee competitions in the past.
‘‘ It’s the tradition, the knowledge and the understanding that they have,’’ he says.
Included in the finalists’ package is three days of expert training in Napier before the competition, but the big bonus would be on his CV, Mr Robinson said.
‘‘It’d be great towards the future, I think it would be easier to get jobs and would be recognised overseas.’’
Eventually he plans to travel and work in Australia, and one day ‘‘maybe somewhere in Europe’’.
Heat is on: Apprentice baker James Robinson has been selected to take part in a high pressure bake-off for the title of national trainee of the year next month.