Competition in one form or another has played its part in helping us develop since the dawn of time. Competition emerges in varying forms, from sibling rivalry through to human survival. The one thing that has stood out is that it becomes the foundation of development, improvement and invention.
For baking, many aspects of technique and ingredients have come about as a result of development through the competitive arena. The need to produce greater quality in shorter time frames has forced development of equipment, ingredients and technique to new and exciting levels.
As a nation of bakers, we are a little behind other countries when it comes to how we value competitions. Europe and, more recently, Asia have clearly understood the value of competition to their industry and utilised it to great effect, both in forms of recognition and in business and product development.
I recently judged at a baking competition in Casablanca, which saw a minnow team from Senegal compete for the very first time and win. There I witnessed a small nation emerge from obscurity into the international spotlight. When this team returned to Dakar they received a ticker tape parade and an audience with government ministers.
Moving forward, we need to develop this culture here in Australia in order to keep pace with the rest of the baking world and ensure our presence and respect at a world baking level.
Southern Cross Baking Group will later this year send a team to the Iba Cup in Munich, Germany, to compete against 14 other nations in this world class baking championship. It will once again give us the opportunity to develop new skills, knowledge and leadership for the future of Australian baking. Once finished, team members will be asked to pass on those new skills and knowledge to others within the Australian baking community.
The information gained from our Louis Lesaffre Cup experience in 2011 has now found its way through to many levels within the industry. Those in baking now have access to new recipes and have also seen new ingredients available in Australia for the first time.
We now have the beginnings of a great foundation of leadership and this will continue to develop. We have been able to call on past team members to assist and give advice, as well mentor young bakers. For our young members in baking, this is not only important but also imperative for a strong future.
Get behind your Australian teams, support them and help them out in whatever way you can. It will create a greater depth of knowledge, and skill that someday we can all benefit from.