Every year we hold our national competitions, and we have hundreds of entries from Students, trainees & professional bakers from around the UK & Ireland. We even have live competitions for students and trainees to compete in during conference weekend. The competitions are held during our Annual Conference in June. Here is a summary of why competitions are important & how they can help you. Our competitions are an important part of the ABST Conference weekend, and here's the reason why.
Anyone that has entered our competitions, will understand all of the work that has to go into making it happen. There's the advanced planning to start. For example, all the individual ingredients that you have to make sure you have, what time you want to make the entry to ensure it is as fresh as possible when it is entered. Or in the case of cake decorating, there's the design to think about, and the theme.
Then there's all the practising. Whether you are entering a competition that requires the best flavour, or one that involves the best overall bread or cake, you will no doubt practise. Whether its practise at moulding, looking at the best mixing times, proving time and baking temperature, you will be practising to ensure that the day you make your final entry, it will be a combination of preparation and practise. Then we expect you will have had a good look at your practices, and worked out what worked well, and want didn't work so well, and then tried again. Once all the above has been done, its time to start making your final products, ready to be judged at conference. The main point is that competitions are not about winning believe it or not! Yes its great to have done all that work, all the practising and reviewing, and then win the competition, and that is the aim at the end of the day. But, the most valuable part of competitions is the work that goes into it before. You may not realise it now, but all that work that you did entering competitions is really going to help you in your future careers. The times that you spent practising and looking to get the flavour exactly right, or the shape, is exactly the kind of skills that are needed in New Product Development. All the time you spent working out the best mixing times, or looking at baking temperatures to achieve the best results and then making sure you follow those times and temperatures is exactly the kind of skills you need for a technical role in the baking industry. And finally, picking the best loaf, the one that you think is the best out of all of them to take into the competitions to be judged.
Although you may not have realised it, these are the skills needed for roles such as quality control. If you are looking to open your own business in the future, all of the skills above will be needed.
In summary ABST Annual Competitions are all about working alone or in a team, to create the perfect product. Not only does it develop your skills, but also your understanding of different products, and what the perfect bakery product should look like. One of the most important points of the whole process is feedback. If you enter a competition, and you don't win, it is always worth asking one of the judges and experts for advice on what you can do to improve. If you don't ask, you'll never know. That's why we ensure that everyone that enters a competition has the opportunity to ask judges
questions. You will see on the agenda that we open doors to the judging room for 30 minutes just for competition entrants, which means you have more time to ask judges
the questions on how to improve, or even why you won as well.
Top tips for success
The first most important #TopTip is to read the rules! Sounds simple, but you would be surprised. If you don't read the rules before you start, you won't know what you need to do in order to have the most opportunity to win. Things like finished weights of products, and the amount of products you need to make and enter. Also, it you are entering a competition that requires a number of different types of products, make sure you enter all of them, or you may be deducted valuable points, or even disqualified. If you are entering a competition that asks for decorated cake for example, but all decorations must be edible, please make sure that you follow the rules.
If you are confused about anything just ask! We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about the rules and any of the competitions, and we would rather you ask us earlier than later. Finally don't forget to be careful when transporting your entries. We understand that you will have travelled quite a long way to get here, so its really important that when you spent so much time and effort into making your products perfect, that they arrive in one piece!
Good luck to everyone!
Bakery students from around the UK and Ireland sharing their experiences