Adrian Caporetto found himself taking a left turn into baking after falling for the daughter of the family behind Whittlesea Bakehouse. Now, after successes in the more specific awards categories, Adrian has led Whittlesea to victory in the coveted Plain Mince Pie category of the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition. Adrian tells us more about his love for baking and his advice for those looking to get into the industry.
How did you get started in baking?
I got started in baking from my love of good food and enjoying great tasting pies, cakes, and pastries.
What was your strategy going into this year’s competition?
My strategy was to do what we do best and produce a product that not only we loved the taste of and look, but also hoped the judges would too. We went in this year’s competition with the judges’ comments and feedback (from previous years) in mind and made small improvements to help us produce the best pie.
How did you feel when you heard that Whittlesea had won Best Plain Pie?
The feeling at first was shock. You are up against some of the best in the industry and to come out on top soon turned to excitement and an overwhelming sense of pride.
What is the secret to the perfect pie?
The secret is a secret, we can’t tell you that … hahaha! I think the secret is simplicity, pastry to meat ratio, good colour, well baked, because let’s face it no one likes a soggy bum.
Can you tell me a little bit more about Whittlesea Bakehouse and how you started working there?
Whittlesea Bakehouse is a family run and owned business. It has been that way for the past 25 years. Funny story… I used to be a customer on the other side of the counter, as I am originally from the automotive industry. One day, I was served by a beautiful lady working there, who is now my wife. Shortly after is when I started in the family business prior to getting married. I put in the hard work and long hours teaching myself the art of good pastry and flavoursome pies.
How has winning the best plain pie at the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition changed life for you at Whittlesea Bakehouse?
Winning the best plain pie at this year’s Official Great Aussie Pie Competition has given us amazing exposure not only from the industry itself, but also from people travelling around from all different areas. Long hours, hard work, and plenty of pie making has not only been tiring, but has been very rewarding as well.
This wasn’t Whittlesea’s first win at the Great Aussie Pie Competition, you’ve previously won gold medals for specialty pies at the Competition. What’s your secret to a winning pastry?
Yes, we have been entering the competition for four years now and have come away with lots of gold medals and now the top gong! I believe the secret to the winning pastry is ingredients and loving what you do.
What are some of Whittlesea’s other specialities?
Whittlesea Bakehouse has a vast selection of not only savoury delights but sweet ones too. We have, of course, our winning plain pie, which is quite special, but we also do our 12-hour slow-cooked brisket pie range. We also have our award-winning vanilla slice, homemade butter shortbreads, slices to delight all taste buds, celebratory cakes, and not to forget great coffee.
Have you started to prepare for next year’s competition? Any goals in mind?
I certainly have been thinking about and preparing for next year’s competition. Always thinking of new ideas and ways to perfect and already great product. In terms of goals, winning the trophy back-to-back would be a fantastic achievement.
Are there any other competitions that you’re looking at entering over the next year?
We love competitions and the networking and exposure you get from them. The next one is run by the BAA and then onto the Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph. Then back to The Official Great Aussie Pie Competition.
What’s your favourite thing to bake?
My favourite thing to bake would have to be the pies, pasties and a great Sunday roast.
What’s your favourite of all of Whittlesea’s products—as a consumer?
I have to be honest, I enjoy everything we bake. But the one that stands on top would have to be a vanilla slice. Can’t go past a bakery classic.
What advice would you give to aspiring bakers?
My advice to aspiring bakers would be: don’t be scared of hard work, early starts, and long hours. Love what you do, enjoy what you do, and the one thing I always say is, “If it’s not good enough for me, it’s not good enough for anybody”. Have fun, enter the competitions, because you never know where it will take you.