A day in the life of...Stuart Beattie
Published:  15 December, 2006

10.30am

I arrive at the bakery and chat with the guys about last night's football match. I'm a keen Liverpool supporter and, the previous evening, they drew with Portsmouth, a team that most of the lads here support. I wish we'd won!

11.00am

I head onto the floor to turn on the heaters for the stampers and the ovens. We're in the middle of the festive season at the moment, so we're working on a number of new Christmas lines and there's a real buzz around the bakery.

I'm the day supervisor, responsible for our luxury, award-winning mince pie range. We're currently producing six varieties, all bespoke for our key customers, and turn around about 15,000 every day.

We deliver the mince pies fresh twice a day and, as we take a flexible approach to meeting customer demand, our actual orders for tomorrow won't come in until around 2.30pm.

It's my job to make sure that we deliver on customer orders, so being prepared for - and reacting to - fluctuating orders is an enjoyable challenge.

I take a look at yesterday's figures and estimate how many pies we will need to make during the day so that we can all get started.

One of our major coffee shop customers - a world-leading chain - is having great success with its mince pie range and, with Christmas approaching, I make an extra allowance for an increase in its order for tomorrow. We're going to be busy.

11.15am

Time for a quick team briefing. There are 10 people on my team and as it's a busy bakery, we work in shifts over a six-day period. I have eight Polish guys working here with me at the moment and, while their English is great, my Polish is not the best.

I've been trying to pick up a few phrases, but sometimes the words turn out to be not what I think they are, which always raises a few sniggers from the lads.

11.30am

The team is split into two to make our mince pies. As every product is hand crafted and finished, it's no simple task. I coordinate the first team, who are busy stamping out the pastry cases. We do each one individually as it adds to the consistency of the product.

The butter pastry is then individually hand-placed into the foil cases and deep-filled with premium, citrus-infused mincemeat before being passed on to the second team, who put on the pastry lids and top them with sugar. They then go into the oven to bake.

The love and attention that goes into every one of Rich's mince pies is, in my opinion, what makes them stand out from the long-life boxed products that fill the supermarket shelves at this time of year. I challenge anyone to come up with a better mince pie than ours!

1.30pm

The first batch of mince pies is in the oven and it's my job to watch over them. We use deck ovens at Rich's, rather than modern travelling ones, so it's vital that I keep an eye on the pies to ensure that they are baked just right - not too pale and not too dark - and that the pastry is light and crumbly to eat.

2.00pm

The pies have been in for around half an hour and I can see that they have turned a lovely golden brown and are ready to come out. I get them out of the oven and place them on the rack to cool.

Once they are at the right temperature, I will move them to the finishing area, where I will hand-sprinkle them with sweet snow before handing them over to our packing team to be carefully packed ready for the next delivery.

I've been with Rich's, or David Powell as it was then, for six years now and I'm always amazed at how you start the day with nothing and end it with mountains of delicious products.

I was 16 when I joined the business, with no experience or qualifications. I'm now 22 and a qualified baker, thanks to the support given to me by the company, and I take enormous pride in my work. It's testament to the family atmosphere here that I am just as passionate about my job today as I was when I first started here.

2.30pm

Confirmation of tomorrow's order comes in and I am pleased that I made extra provisions because, as predicted, our customer has increased its order. I call the team round to let them know the exact figures and reallocate a few tasks.

3.30pm

It's been a busy day so far, but thankfully, we're well on track. I make a quick check on the trays containing the day's products to see that they all look 100%.

Then I take the opportunity to have a quick break and a bite to eat before heading back down to the bakery to complete our orders for the day.

7.30pm

After a productive afternoon, I see it's almost time to go home. I check through all the trays to ensure we have the right numbers for each customer and that all of the products are up to Rich's standard. Everything looks fine.

I have a quick handover to my counterpart on the nightshift, Mark Stewart, who works mainly on the production of our signature mince pie range for a top celebrity chef. Then I leave the bakery to drive home.

8.00pm

I get into the car and switch on the radio. A bit of music always helps me to relax. At home I catch up with the latest Sky Sports News, then head to bed.




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