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!
So with just under two weeks to go until conference, we thought that it would be useful to give you some ideas of what we consider essential items to bring with you! So whether this is your first time at conference or you’ve been a few times, don’t forget to pack these essentials! Here is our top 10 essentials to bring to conference:
1. Swimming Costume
During conference, on Saturday morning you will have the opportunity to go into Splash Landings swimming pool. This is free of charge and included in your conference ticket price. If you want to take advantage of this, you need to make sure that you bring your swimming costume! There will be towels available in your hotel room, so you don’t need to worry about bringing towels as well, unless you really want to of course!
2. Black Tie Dinner
On the Saturday evening, we hold our awards dinner which is a black tie event. Get prepared early if you need to buy dresses or suits for the evening ceremony. You could also hire these to save you some money if you don’t already have one. If you haven’t already seen the menu for our black tie dinner, then click here.
3. Fancy Dress
Friday night is fancy dress night. Our theme this year is Zombie Apocalypse, so all delegates are expected to turn up in fancy dress on the night. There are prizes on the night for best costume, so it is definitely worth making the effort and getting involved. Please ensure that you have read our other blog post regarding fancy dress at Alton Towers, as we have requested that face masks and prosthetics are not worn outside of the conference centre. More information is available here.
There are going to be plenty of opportunities to take pictures during conference. We also have Instagram frames available during the weekend, so we encourage you to take pictures and also tag us in them. So don’t forget to bring your camera along with you, and of course any additional batteries or memory cards you may need!
5. Phone chargers
No doubt that you will be using your phones during the weekend a lot. Whether it’s checking social media, taking photos or staying in touch with friends and family. That is going to take a lot of pressure on the old batteries, so make sure that you bring your chargers!
It may seem like an odd one to remember, but don't forget your money. All of your meals are included in the price of conference*, as well as your accommodation, but you will need some money to buy additional drinks or food during the day and evening. Alton Towers accept card payments, and there is a cash machine available in the reception area, but this will charge you for cash withdrawals.
*Baking industry bookings are required to pay for their rooms on departure, as per the information at time of booking
7. Proof of age
You must be over the age of 18 in order to purchase alcohol. Alton Towers operate a “look 25 policy” so if you are lucky enough to look under 25 years old, you will need to bring proof of age with you. Examples of suitable proof of age identification includes driving license and passports. Even if you think you look over 25, it is advised to bring proof of age anyway, just in case!
Now obviously we know that you are going to pack clothes! However, the reason why we have this on the essentials list is to make sure that you pack suitable clothes. The weather can be unpredictable even in June, and you wouldn’t want to get caught in your shorts and t-shirt in Alton Towers theme park on Sunday, if its raining. Our advice is to check the weather and be prepared!
9. Bathroom essentials
The one item most people forget! Don’t forget to pack all of your bathroom supplies you will need over the weekend. Alton Towers do have some essential items available such as toothbrushes, but you will need to pay for them, and there aren’t any shops around Alton Towers to quickly nip out and get something. The closest supermarket is about 30 minutes drive away.
If you are taking medication don’t forget to bring it with you. It’s really important that you let us know if you have any allergies while you are at conference, so that we can ensure that staff know when preparing your meals.
So thats our top 10 essentials to make sure you pack before making your way to us. Anything you think we missed? Let us know by commenting below and we can make sure everyone remembers! Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and twitter to ensure that you receive all the updates running up to and during the weekend.
We have an exciting mini competition to announce which will be taking place on Friday afternoon of conference. As you will already be aware by now, the theme of this years conference is Zombie Apocalypse. With this in mind, we thought it would be a great idea for you to show off your decorating skills, and each produce a zombie gingerbread man during the Friday afternoon. The idea is simple although as with any competition their are some rules as per below:
This is one of the many new activities planned for Friday afternoon at conference which you can take part in from when you arrive up until the AGM. We will be updating you on the other activities over the next few days, so keep an eye out for them!
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank both Greenhalgh's and Renshaw's for the support they have given in providing the Gingerbread men and the icings and decorations, as well as guidance and support on the day at conference.
If you are asking yourself what on earth Lob the Cob is, then you are in for a real treat! Lob the Cob, could be described as the baking industries equivalent to the world championships for shot put (according to Chris). Over the past 8 years when it was invented, there has been a steady increase in colleges competing in the finals, which are held at Conference on the Saturday afternoon.
The title of #LobTheCob Champion is one of the most sought after by all colleges. The winning male and female both receive a #LobTheCob themed trophy and £50 each. But arguably one of the best things about winning this competition, is the title of #LobTheCob Champion, and winning a place in the hall of fame as the best cob lobbing contestant of the year.
So now that you know a little bit about the competition, we are sure you are asking yourselves "how do I enter this amazing sporting challenge that will test me both mentally and physically?" Well that is a very good question, so read on.
In order to go through to the finals, you need to hold semi finals at your college or workplace. The semi finals are easy to hold, and you will need the following:
The rules for Lob the cob are simple.
We feel obliged to also issue some health and safety warnings prior to playing. Please ensure that you have your tutors permission prior to organising any semi finals. Ensure that the lobbing area is clear of people and personal belongings. This includes cars, people, phones, iPads and so on. Cobs can be dangerous when flying through the air, and we encourage you all to take the necessary safety precautions. Please also ensure that you clean up any bread crumbs that will inevitably occur during cob lobbing.
Once you have completed your Lob the Cob semi final, you will have a best male and best female, who will then go through to the final at conference. You need to let Chris know the names of these finalists and what college / uni you are from either by email email@example.com or preferably on facebook with some pictures of your lob the cob experience! Closing date for entries is Wednesday 13th June 2018 so start organising your semi finals now!
If you are still looking for inspiration, check out the #LobTheCob finals from last year! Stay safe, have fun and happy cob lobbing!
So now you know the meal options for Friday night, we thought you might like to know the food that will be served during the day on Saturday and then during our black tie dinner and awards ceremony on the Saturday evening.
Lunch on Saturday will be in the form of a meal voucher. These will be given to your lecturer to be handed out to students on the Friday night. All delegates should receive one meal voucher which will pay towards your lunch on the Saturday. you will be able to use these meal vouchers in any of the Alton Towers Hotel restaurants. Please ensure that you check the opening times of the restaurants, and you may need to book a space at busy times, which can be done at the restaurant or at reception. The options that you can choose from on the menu are as follows:
Hot food menu
Cold food menu
Saturday Evening Black Tie Meal
This is a sit down meal. The dress code is Back Tie, which means that gentlemen should wear dinner suits / suits and bow ties. Ladies should where appropriate clothing. The menu is fixed, and you will have confirmed when you booked your room with your college whether you required a vegetarian meal, or if you have any allergens:
Feta and Watermelon
Salted caramel cheesecake served with vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberry.
We hope that you find the above menus useful, and we are sure that you can appreciate that it is very difficult to please all delegates at conference when it comes to food options, but hopefully everyone will find something that they like!
Over the years we have learnt that one of the most important things about a great conference, is the food! Last year, we decided that we would provide all of your meals during conference, including lunchtime. So with this in mind, we thought you might like to know what is available in the cost of your conference ticket to choose from on the Friday lunchtime when you arrive, and on the night time during our Zombie Apocalypse themed evening. So without further ado, here it is!
Friday Lunchtime Menu
When you arrive at the conference centre, you will have already selected what you want to eat. The sandwiches that you have chosen will be available for you to collect in the conference centre.
Additional choices which may have an additional cost:
Friday Evening Buffet Menu
During our #ZombieApocolpyse themed evening we will be having a hot buffet. Below are the choices available:
Conference is just over 2 weeks away, and we wanted to let those of you that haven't been before know what to expect. For those of you that have been before, we still have some new things to do at conference as well.
Friday night of conference is our #FancyDress night, which this year has the theme of #ZombieApocolpyse. Although fancy dress is not mandatory, we do encourage it. As always, there will be prizes for both best male and female zombies or zombie hunters on the night, of £50 each, so it is well worth getting dressed up and join in the fun.
Please bear in mind however, that Alton Towers is a family orientated hotel. As such, Alton Towers have asked us to ensure that all members attending conference and dressing up as Zombies on the Friday night, do so responsibly. Zombies can be quite scary, especially for small children and some adults, so we have requested that this year, costumes are only to be worn in the conference area. Any face masks or prosthetics can only be worn at the fancy dress evening, and should not be worn when walking to or from your hotel room.
Other entertainment on the Friday night will be the photo booth with zombie themed props, disco and raffle and magicians. We are still in the process of confirming an "extreme arena" activity in the early evening. As soon as we have confirmed this, we will let you know, but it is basically an arena where teams or individuals compete against each other to hit as many targets as possible within a set time limit.
If anyone has any concerns regarding anything about the fancy dress or other entertainment then either comment below or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org We look forward to seeing all of you dressed up as zombies on the Friday night!
GDPR Update and how it affects our #HireMe scheme
As many of you are aware, new regulations will come into affect from Friday 25th May 2018. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will affect all companies and organisations that hold personal data, and aims to ensure that the personal data that you share, stays secure. It also ensures that companies and organisations review the current data that they hold, and whether it is all necessary.
With this in mind, the Alliance for Bakery Students & Trainees has been reviewing the information that we need in order for #HireMe to work with industry, and what we do with the personal information that you send to us.
We reviewed how we think we can best ensure that this scheme works in finding you work placements, job opportunities and experience by linking you with industry. Previously, we asked you to send us a lot of personal information, which was then sent out into industry, where bakeries could access this and contact you directly with any opportunities available. The GDPR has given us an opportunity to review this and the changes we have made will ensure that your personal information is more secure.
What have we changed?
To start off with, we will no longer be sending your personal information out into industry. We don't believe that this is the most secure method, as any information we send out could then be sent onto third parties. We will still be asking you for the same information, but the biggest change is that we will be asking industry to provide us directly with opportunities. Once we receive a new opportunity, we will send an email to any students or trainees that have applied to our #HireMe scheme, based on the preferences that you have selected, such as type of bakery experience you want, or the area of the UK or Ireland you are looking for work. You will receive this information by email, and will include important details, such as the bakeries website, contact details and the type of work experience they are looking to provide. You can then decide whether you want to contact the employer directly. This way, your personal information stays secure and is only visible by the ABST.
What happens now?
We believe that this is the most secure method to ensure that your personal information is kept safe, but also make you aware of opportunities in your area, or bakery sector you are interested in. Our new form only asks for the required information that we need so that we only send you opportunities that are relevant to you, so we have streamlined our information form, only asking for the minimum personal information. As a result of this, any information that we currently hold in relation to #HireMe will be deleted, so if you still wish to be part of the new and improved scheme, then please re-apply here.
The #HireMe Scheme is only available to members, so you will need to have paid your membership and also have an account set up on our website, with a password to gain access to the application form. If you need any further information, then please comment below, or alternatively contact our Communication Secretary email@example.com
Competition Schedule Update
The competition schedule is now available to download from our website here. The schedule includes all of the available competitions that members can enter, the rule for each competition and also the prizes.
It is very important that you read the rules and regulations for each competition, to ensure that when you present your entries for judging at conference, that are correct. Any entries that have not followed the rules, risk being disqualified or marked down. If you are unsure about any of the rules, then let ask your lecturer for more information, or get in contact with our competition secretary. There are some FAQ's available on our competitions page which may also be useful.
When you have decided which competitions you are going to enter, you need to let your lecturer know, so that they can complete the entry form. Lecturers will then send the completed entry form with all students names on to our competition secretary. There are lots of different competitions this year, with something for everyone, so have a look at what is available, let your lecturer know what you want to enter, and start practicing!
Facebook Frame example - available now
So we had a very useful executive and council meeting today at University College Birmingham. Thanks to everyone that came along and braved the snow. We hope you all arrived home safely! We discussed a great number of things relating to conference, which we felt would be good to update you on.
As promised the date for the competitions schedule has now been confirmed as Friday 23rd March 2018. This will be available to download on our website. This means that you and your tutors will be able to download the schedule, and see the competitions that are available to enter, as well as the prizes.
Student Conference bookings
The booking forms for students will be sent out to your lecturers within the next week. If you haven't already confirmed with your lecturer whether you are planning on attending conference, then you will have to let them know as soon as possible, as we are limited to 300 guests this year, which will be on a first come first served basis. There are only 12 weeks left until conference, so make sure that you ensure you lecturer knows you want to go, so they can add you to the college / university group booking. Remember, you need to be a member to attend conference, so if you haven't already, ensure that you pay for membership and also register online to receive your login and password.
Industry Conference bookings
Industry members have to book on line. You can now book your room and tickets for conference directly on our website, in our "Conference 2018" section. As we have already said, tickets are limited to 300 this year, which is both students and industry members, so ensure you book early to avoid disappointment.
Introducing the "Conference T-Shirt"
We have also been discussing some new ideas for conference. These include activities that you do during the weekend. It was agreed that all delegates that attend conference will receive an "ABST T-shirt" which will be given to you when you arrive, so that you can where it during the weekend. We will be posting some designs for you all to vote on soon, which will be on Facebook and Twitter. The above are just some ideas to start with, but if you have any suggestion, then let us know and we will look into them. The design that receives the most votes will be printed, and you will then be given your very own ABST T-Shirt to keep as a memento of the weekend.
Facebook Frames - they're back!
Last year, we developed some Facebook frames which were available for you to use for conference. We have to admit that not many of you used the frames we created, however they have been really popular in industry with lots of bakers on facebook using them for their profile pictures. This year, we have been developing some new frames, which you can use both before, during and after conference. Some of them are available now. Many of them will be themed for this years "Zombie Apocalypse". We are therefore asking you guys to create your own frames, which we will then make into digital versions and can be used during conference and so on. To get involved and start designing your frame, simply draw it on a piece of paper and take a picture. Send it to us via Facebook or twitter and we will the look at creating the top three voted for by you. We will keep you updated on the closing date for this via our facebook page. An example of one frame that we have already made and is available right now for you to download and is at the top of this blog.
Membership - Important information
We have received feedback from members that they are confused by the membership process for the ABST. We hope to clear this up. Once you have paid for your membership, you will receive an email from PayPal as a receipt. As soon as the Payment has gone through on PayPal, you are then transferred to a new page where you need to enter your information to register for a password. This is very important that you do this. If however, you have not completed this form, all is not lost.
If you missed out on completing the form after paying, to ensure that you receive all information regarding the ABST, you need to register online. When you go to our website, click on the "log in / register button". You can then register your name, email and create a password. Once approved, you will then be able to access the members only sections of our website.
We also confirmed today, that membership badges will be sent to college lecturers to be given to members that have paid membership. These are currently being ordered, so we would expect lecturers to receive them over the next few weeks. You need to show your lecturer your receipt or proof of membership in order to receive your badge. For those of you that have become members since March, you can also show your certificate of membership to lecturers which you could download after payment.
Don't forget, we always look forward to hearing about what you have been up to, including any fundraising events or visits into industry. Maybe someone from industry has been visiting you college or university? Let us know, and we will ensure all members know about all the great work you have been up to!