With multiple awards under her belt, including the Baking Industry Awards Rising Star 2017, Jessica Dalton is already making a name for herself in the industry.

The next generation of British bakers is already shaping the future of the industry and Jessica Dalton, Baking Industry Awards Rising Star winner, is at the forefront.

Currently a Level 5 degree apprentice at University College Birmingham, she works full time around her studies in the university bakery. Here she also helps to train apprentices.

“My job is Monday to Friday, I do my degree within that time, and I teach junior bakers on Saturdays,” she says. “I learn from the lecturers – they give me tasks and I really try to push myself.”

Jessica’s tenacity, passion and dedication to her craft helped her secure The Rising Star Award in 2017. “I had applied for the awards the previous year, but I didn’t get through the first stage. I thought I’d give it a go again because I had done more within that year,” she says.

“My original interpretation of the Rising Star Award was that it was for people who had just gone into the industry and were making their way up. I’m a student, I work for my university’s craft bakery so I thought that’s why I didn’t get through because I’m not out there as much as other people.

“But this time, when I got through to the interview, I was shocked because I realised it actually doesn’t matter if you’re a student with only a little bit of work experience, it’s ultimately down to you as a person.”

Perseverance is key. Jessica explains that while she enters a lot of awards she doesn’t always place, but adds that the experience is always good for making contacts, feedback and getting your name out there.

“A lot of students like things handed to them but unfortunately that’s not how it goes. You need to get out there and get it – do something to stand out from the crowd.”

This can-do attitude has seen her triumph at other awards, winning the Bakery Trainee Challenge 2016 at the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees (ABST) conference, as well as gold at the Hospitality and Catering Salon Culinaire for an Eiffel Tower cake.

“I only made that cake as a dare,” she laughs. “It was to wind Dawn [Gemmell] up as the cake is a nightmare to travel with.”

Dawn, who was awarded with Outstanding Contribution to the Baking Industry at the 2017 Baking Industry Awards (see p20), has been a huge inspiration to Jessica. “My main goal is to become a lecturer like Dawn. I want to be able to inspire as many students as she has,” Jessica adds.

But finishing her degree, commercial work experience, and travel are on the cards first.

Sponsor’s comment

“In what was a high-quality field of entrants, Jessica displayed great enthusiasm for baking in all its guises.

Her all-round knowledge and skill were evidenced by the many awards she had won previously and the level of her involvement in the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees. In both her written and verbal presentations, Jessica displayed a passion and depth of knowledge that convinced us that she was indeed the Rising Star we were looking for.”

Richard Tearle, general manager, Rondo

Jessica Dalton accepts the award from Richard Tearle and Denise van Outen