2024 ABINSA Scholarship: Bake with the best intern...

2024 ABINSA Scholarship: Bake with the best internationally

ABINSA 2023 winner Ganesh Iyer being presented with his trophy.

Coming up in the ranks as a baker, there’s plenty to learn and a number of skills to master. Each year the Australian Society of Baking (ASB) offers prestigious scholarships via a competition to two lucky bakers to head over seas and broaden their baking horizons. With the opportunity to mix with some of the industries best, meet other bakers and develop skills that you will carry forward into the rest of your career why wouldn’t you apply?

The Australian Baking Industry National Scholarship Award (ABINSA) is a two-category scholarship that this year will send the lucky winners to the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) in America. There is one national winner for each of the scholarship categories and four regional winners for each scholarship. The national winners will spend five days at SFBI including airfares, accommodation and spending money to make the most of your time in the States.

Cherrie took the opportunity to visit the San Francisco Baking Institute.

Outside of the excitement to travel overseas, there are so many other reasons to apply for the scholarship. The 2016 ABINSA winner, Cherrie Wilson, had the opportunity to travel to Paris for her scholarship and got to see how it’s done from the croissant and baguette capital of the world.

“It’s Paris, it just changes your view of baking completely,” Cherrie said.

“They [the ASB] organised for us to do a baking walking tour of the city. We met up with a local, and then they took us around to all the local bakeries and museums for the day… they just do it a different way to Australia. It was so good to see how they bake on the other side of the world, and we can definitely learn so much from them.”

Cherrie’s experience was something that she said had changed her perception of many different elements of baking and she developed skills she took forward into her career. She also had the opportunity in 2023 to visit SFIB for a day as part of a month-long tour to gain some experience and work under their guidance.

“Through the ASB I went to America for a month, and I said ‘okay, I want to go to San Francisco the home of sourdough and work for a day,” Cherrie said.

“I started work at 3:30 in the morning and it was really good. [They said] ‘someone called in sick so we’re going to put you to work today’ and I said great. So, it was very, very hands on. They really put me under the pump, to start with I was egg washing all their products, they had challah bread and croissants and everything.”

Cherrie’s experience became full circle this year with her now reviewing and writing some of the application questions for the next group of bakers partaking in the scholarship. She was able to develop her skills and expertise from when she won the award to now reaping the benefits in being apart of the scholarship process at the top. Cherrie spoke about why people should apply and how it can benefit them in their career the way it did her.

“Just so you can meet such great and influential people in our Australian baking scene, that’s what you’ll get out of it,” she said.

“I really feel like the first thing you’ll do is you’ll just get that beautiful mentoring from our bakers, and then you can learn so much from overseas as well and bring that back to Australia.”

The international prize proves to be a once in a lifetime experience from previous recipients, but the regional awards can bring just as much excitement and experience to your skills as the National title.

Caleb Brazsell was awarded the 2023 Sydney J Packham Baking Industry Medal

Ganesh Iyer was the most recent winner of the regional prize for the Arthur E. Dennison Trophy in 2023 and then went on to win the National title. Ganesh highlighted the significant effect applying for the scholarship had on his career as a baker and what he learned through writing his application.

“The most rewarding aspect of this process for me was the opportunity to share my knowledge and insights with future hospitality professionals, chefs, and bakers,” Ganesh said.

“I was able to shed light on the topic of sustainability in the baking industry, drawing from my own experiences and aligning them with current trends and market demands. Following the detailed instructions provided in the kit, I ensured that my writing was concise and focused on industry practices, thereby effectively conveying valuable information to the readers.”

Although the application process at first may have felt daunting, the kit provided alleviates some of those stresses, which Ganesh echoed. He said that the application process was “straightforward with all the necessary information”.

“Despite its simplicity, it highlighted the significance of precision, creativity and perseverance in presenting one’s best work to stand out amidst talented competitors. Entrants were required to conduct research and submit a paper on one of the four industry topics provided in the entry kit,” he said.

“Looking ahead, I envision a path entrenched in continuous growth, expanding my bakery’s footprint, and contributing innovative concepts to the baking industry.”

Ganesh currently leads a team at Riviera Bakery in Adelaide and has a background as a seasoned Pastry Chef. His culinary journey has taken him across the globe, with roles in renowned international hotel brands in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and across Australia.

The Australian Society of Baking’s ABINSA award propels bakers into their careers offering a wealth of experience, networking and skill development with the best of the best in the industry. Both recent recipients have highlighted the significance the process and winning the award has had on their career—both also strongly encouraging young bakers to apply for the 2024 scholarship.

“For individuals eyeing future competitions, my advice echoes the importance of dedication, continuous learning, and the courage to showcase one’s unique skills and innovation.”

Important dates and information:
• Entry kits are available until June 30, 2024
• Entries close Friday August 23, 2024
• Winners announced at the ASB Chairman’s Dinner on the 23 October 2024 in Melbourne

Scholarships available:
• The Sydney J Packham Baking Industry Medal: 18-24 years of age as of 23 August 2024
• Arthur E Denison Trophy: 25 years and older as of 23 August 2024
For more information please visit the ASB website.

Main image: Ganesh Iyer 

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