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For this category, judges assessed individuals who are helping to shape the future of baking and driving developments along the way.
Winner: William Leet, David Wood Baking
Although he loves all kinds of bakery – especially bread – William Leet’s real passion is helping others bake. His long-term ambition is to gain the knowledge and skills to go into lecturing within bakery so he can pass on his expertise to future generations and inspire them to create their own path within the baking industry.
For now, though, Leet wants to continue to learn and develop his skills to their full potential at David Wood Baking, where he works as a bakery development technician. “It gives me so much joy creating new bakery products and processes,” he says.
Leet found a path into the industry after being medically discharged from the army with mental health struggles. A bakery-for-beginners class at his local adult education college revealed a natural talent, and the baking process – especially dough kneading – proved therapeutic.
Leet’s bakery education progressed all the way to university. In his final year he befriended David Smart of Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery, who put him in contact with Morten Schakenda, a famous Norwegian chef turned baker who owns Bakeriet I Lom in Norway, where Leet went to work as a baker and bakery team leader for two years.
After moving back to the UK, Leet worked as a supervisor for a bakery manufacturing company, where he was promoted to assistant manager before being headhunted for his “current and dream job” at David Wood. He has successfully launched new products and was a finalist in last year’s Rising Star Award.
The list of what Leet has achieved within his first five years working in bakery is a terrific example of what a career in this industry can deliver, said the judges.
Finalist: Amelia Levick, Sheffield College
Having developed a passion for bakery as a seven-year-old child, a career in the baking industry has long been an ambition for Amelia Levick.
She is currently studying as a Level 5 student at Sheffield College – Technology, where she is working towards a Foundation Degree Level 5 in Bakery and Patisserie. Her achievements include winning a recent ABST-sponsored sourdough competition at the college, as well as helping to judge other competitions that she didn’t compete in.
Levick also recently starred in a promotional video for the college’s bakery and patisserie courses. “I really enjoyed taking part in the project as I was able to encourage future students to take part in this great, growing industry,” she said.
It’s clear that Levick’s passion for bakery remains as strong as ever and her drive and ambition impressed the judges. “For me, baking isn’t just a hobby; it’s not just a career; it’s who I am as a person,” she said.
Finalist: Matthew McGrath, Ultrapharm
“Unflappable” and “really knows his stuff” about gluten-free bakery product development – those were the impressions the judges were left with after interviewing Matthew McGrath, who works as a new product development technologist at Ultrapharm in Pontypool.
In addition to his work at the gluten-free bakery (which is part of Finsbury Food Group), where he started in September 2019, McGrath is studying for a Level 4 Diploma in Leadership and Management delivered by City & Guilds Institute of Leadership and Management, and is a graduate in food and nutrition from Sheffield Hallam University.
McGrath believes his greatest success in the industry so far is winning new business for Ultrapharm through his new product portfolio. His ambition for the next five years is to continue to build upon his knowledge of the gluten-free functionality of different ingredients “in order that I may take on a wider strategic role within the Finsbury Food Group across Ultrapharm (UK) and Ultraeuropa (Poland)”, he says.
Baking Industry Awards 2021 winners revealed
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Baking Industry Awards 2021: Rising Star Award