With a disciplined and well-practiced performance, the New South Wales regional team was awarded the coveted Bake Skills champion jacket at this year’s Fine Food Australia.
After three days of intense competition, the 2015 Bake Skills champion title was awarded to Team NSW Regional’s Mikayla Brightling and Alex Ivanoff.
The pair, both under 25 and apprentices as required by the competition’s criteria, impressed judges with their Anzac centenary-inspired display, celebrating the great Aussie spirit and the country’s involvement in international conflicts since WWI.
The ‘holy grail’ of apprentice baking competitions was gruelling, with the bakers producing baguettes, sourdough, pretzels, brioche, ciabattas and croissants, while the pastry chefs turned out cheesecakes, éclairs, plated desserts and entremets.
After almost 10 hours of production and judging on day two, Team Queensland took the early overall lead, with baker Brendon Woodward named the LeSaffre Bread & Yeast Goods Champion for 2015.
On day three, an exceptional baked cheesecake and modern éclairs saw South Australia’s Tiffany Song edge out in front, however, NSW City representatives Sam Pilon and QLD’S Savanna Clarke scored consistently high marks with their ambitious plated dessert and Callebaut chocolate entremet and crouembouche respectively. In the end, after nearly two hours of tasting and judging, it was NSW Regional’s Mikayla Brightling who emerged victorious in both the plated dessert and entrement categories.
Narrowly defeating both SA and QLD, Mikayla – who many in the industry are keeping a close eye on – was named the EOI Cake and Pastry Champion title for 2015.
Manager of the winning team, Illawarra Institute of TAFE teacher John Baker, said both Mikayla and Alex are passionate and self-driven, and their love for the trade came through in their finished product.
The event’s anticipated major creation’s day saw QLD post wins in the puff pastry and Anzac categories, while SA produced both an excellent bread model and decorated special occasion cake. Despite tough competition from NSW City, it was the regional team from NSW who again came to the fore, with an outstanding bread model and special occasion cake.
This year’s event marked 23 years of Bake Skills, with organiser Craig Perry saying everyone involved was impressed with the calibre of the competition.
“The Bake Skills Australia National Competition produced, in the words of head judge Leif Madsen, the best quality and creativity seen at the competition for several years,” he said.
“After donning their Bake Skills Champions green blazers and being presented with the Bake Skills Cup, both Alex and Mikayla thanked the sponsors, their fellow competitors, their manager and their TAFE College for all their support.”
“Finally, a special thank you to all the companies and people who make the Bake Skills opportunity possible for our next generation of young bakers and pastry chefs, including event partners: Diversified (Fine Foods), Moffat, Peerless EOI and F Mayer Imports; sponsors LeSaffre Australia Pacific, Chefs Pride (Patties), and Allstates DCP Marketing Services; supporters Manildra Flour, Official Great Aussie Pie Competition, Ryde TAFE, Sydney Institute of TAFE, Regency TAFE, BITA, NBIA and the ASB; providers Complete Displays, Fraser & Hughes , Pace Farm, Devondale, W& P Reedy, Geddes, Carlyle Engineering, and Sticky Foods.
Photo: Top left, left to right: John Baker, F.Mayer sales and marketing manager Gary Willis, NSW Regional team member Mikayla Brightling, EOI national business manager bakery Peter LeSueur; NSW Regional team member Alex Ivanoff; and Fine Food Australia event director Minnie Constan
Well done to Team NSW Regional, and to all the individual winners of this year’s Bake Skills Australia competition:
The Bake Skills LeSaffre Bread & Yeast Goods Champion: presented by LeSaffre Australia Pacific for the best Individual baking performance.
Winner: Brendon Woodward (QLD)
The Bake Skills EOI Cake & Pastry Champion: presented by Peerless EOI for the best individual cake and pastry performance.
Winner: Mikayla Brightling (NSW – Regional)
Official Great Aussie Gourmet Pie Team Award: presented by the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition.
Winners: Savanna Clarke & Brendon Woodward (QLD)
The Bake Skills Australia Encouragement Award:
A special award designed to recognise excellence (overall or individual) at a team level. Presented in memory of the late Steve Vincent to recognise his outstanding support for the younger members of the baking industry.
Winners: Savanna Clarke (QLD) & Recco O’Connor (SA)
Champion Team 2015:
Team NSW Regional competitors Mikayla Brightling and Alex Ivanoff, and manager John Baker.
Main Photo: Queensland team Brendon Woodward (left) with Savanna Clarke