Sponsored by Rondo

Winner: Jessica Dalton

Having studied bakery at Level 1,apprentice Jessica Dalton has worked her way up through all levels to a degree. “I’m in my first year as a degree apprentice, which means I work full-time and study part-time,” she says.

Dalton works in the bakery at University College Birmingham (UCB), but has been out in the wider world too, with stints at craft bakeries and Bettys of Harrogate.

For the past three years she has attended Cake International where she has demonstrated sugarpaste modelling, and she has been a member of the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees for three years, acting as student representative. In competitions she has won many gold, silver and bronze medals.

She adds: “My greatest success was making chocolates for Sophie, Countess of Wessex – it was a great project in which to get involved.”

Dalton’s ultimate goal is to teach and inspire the next generation of bakers. She is full of praise for her own mentor and lecturer Dawn Gemmell, who has herself won the Outstanding Contribution to the Baking Industry category in this year’s awards (see p34): “I would love to be as good as her one day.”

She has firm views on how the industry could improve: “Young people could benefit from visiting bigger, industrial bakeries to compare different job roles and environments.”

Finalist: Megan Roberts

Drawn to bakery from a very early age, Megan Roberts is now studying the Bakery and Patisserie Technology Degree at University College Birmingham (UCB).

“For me bakery is an expression; it’s something to fall in love with,” she says. “I am very passionate about all the products I make and wish to further expand my skills and knowledge.”

When she is not studying at UCB, Roberts works at Harvey Nichols, Birmingham, as demi chef de partie, pastry. She has also worked for a large retailer and at Malmaison in Birmingham.

Her internship experience included making breads, cakes, pastries and chocolates, with work placements at Slatterys in Manchester, where she produced seasonal chocolate products for the shop, morning rolls for the café, as well as gateaux and small pastries, and loaves. Another internship was at the Langham Hotel, Roux at Landau.

Her previous achievements include being a UK finalist in the Le Cordon Bleu Scholarship last year and winning a bronze medal in the Hotelympia Celebration Cake category.

Finalist: Georgina Watson

Georgina Watson studied bakery, patisserie and cake decorating at the Printwork campus in Leeds and has been working in NPD at Country Style Foods for two years.

Her love of baking started at an early age, when she would help her mother and grandmother, and she now works with some of the UK’s largest retailers on new ideas.

“It can vary from crumbles and savoury pastries to a new cheddar-topped artisan cheese bread or an olive oil-enriched rosemary and sea salt focaccia,” she explains. “Seeing retailers then putting together a marketing plan for the finished products is very satisfying.”

Watson enjoys the challenge of developing products to achieve a particular look, texture and taste. “I particularly enjoy sourdough and focaccias. It’s fascinating how fermentation times and temperatures can impact on such a simple dough mix.”

She also enjoys working with the rest of the development and factory teams on new ideas for briefs. “I’ve a real passion for continuous learning as it assists with innovations based on trends and new ingredients.”