Top Gong: Maddie McNeil

Recently, Maddie McNeil, a second‑year apprentice at Brighton’s Best Bakehouse achieved success at the Tasmanian Excellence in Baking round, winning the Pastry competition. She will go on to compete with other pastry apprentices from around the country in next year’s national Excellence in Baking competition.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Maddie McNeil and I am a second-year apprentice pastry chef/baker at Brighton’s Best Bakehouse.

How did you get started in the baking industry?
My first job was with Brighton’s Best Bakehouse in front of house, where I was always interested in the baking side. In later years I began my baking apprenticeship with other bakeries, and was lucky enough for Tash and Scott to take me back to continue my apprenticeship and expand my skills.

How did it feel to win the Tasmanian Excellence in Baking Pastry competition?
It felt very rewarding. It was good to know all my time and effort I put into practising paid off, as well as all the training and resources Scott and Crystal invested in me.

Was the competition what you expected when you entered?
No, I wasn’t expecting to be so overwhelmed by all the pressure. Although it was beneficial because now I know what to expect for the national competition.

Can you tell me a bit about the lead up to the competition and the preparation that you did?
For months I would stay back after my shifts and come into the bakery on my days off to practice, perfecting recipe quantities and my methods.

How are you feeling about taking part in the national competition next year?
I am very nervous but excited to meet other talented apprentices, influential people in the industry and open myself up to new opportunities.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to take part in any baking competitions in the future?
Just jump in and give it a go. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while practising, so if they happen during the competition you will know how to fix them.

Where do you see yourself heading in the industry?
My short-term plan is to finish my apprenticeship and just see where life takes me after that, still definitely staying in the baking industry though.

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