Ivor McKane, president, of the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees, on last month’s annual ABST conference

Tracing its history back to 1925, the ABST aims to maintain a proactive dialogue within the industry on all issues related to education and training.

With supporters and sponsors throughout the industry, the ABST seeks to develop and retain the craft skills and technical knowledge required by bakers.

Last month, more than 280 delegates attended the annual conference, which started on Friday lunchtime and ended with an awards ceremony and dinner on Saturday evening.

Bakery students, their tutors and lecturers were joined by professionals from across a broad spectrum of the industry.

Table sessions with a ‘speed-dating’ format gave students the opportunity to meet industry partners, and there were practical and hands-on demonstrations.

The AGM followed with a review of the past year, office bearer elections and a talk by French baker Richard Bertinet on his life and passion for baking. An informal dinner on Friday evening was followed by entertainment.

Activities on Saturday started early, with students staging a huge array of bread and confectionery competition entries that were judged by 30 industry professionals.

The standard was very high and, in the words of one judge, “keeps getting better each year”. In parallel with the judging, live competitions were held and streamed on social media.

With judging complete, the doors to the competition arena were thrown open and students rushed in to check on results.

The judges remained on hand to give feedback to winners  and students whose entries were not placed on this occasion.

At lunchtime, the famous Lob the Cob competition took place. A bread bloomer is placed on a baker’s peel and tossed as far as possible. After a close competition, winners were presented with baker peel trophies and cash prizes.

After a banquet on Saturday evening, an official change of office took place with an address from myself, as retiring president, followed by new president Sara Autton. The awards ceremony for the earlier competitions followed, and the evening continued with entertainment into the early hours.

Students had the opportunity to enjoy the activities at the Alton Towers resort on Sunday, before travelling home.”

The conference was a great success thanks to the untiring efforts & dedication of the ABST committee.