How did you get into baking?
My twin brother started a catering course, so I decided to do something different and chose a full-time two-year bakery course at Tameside College in the mid-1970s before going to Hollings College, where I did a technician certificate in bread and confectionery, and then finally a bakery national diploma.
What was your first significant job?
While I was at college, I worked at companies including Archers Bakery in Marple. After graduating, I started in a management role at Bon Chef, which made gateaux and frozen pies, working in quality control and then as a production manager. I then went to Fortts bakery in Stockport as the foreman baker, where the boss, Alan Harding, helped me set up my first business in 1983 when I was 23. It was good experience, but the recession hit and I had to give it up although I didn’t come away from it too badly, as I sold the building to a developer.
What prompted you to start teaching?
I went back to Archers, which is a traditional craft bakery, and while I was there, I got interested in teaching, so returned to Tameside to do a teaching qualification. I felt that, by this time, I had knowledge to pass on and was offered a placement at Tameside two years ago, which developed into a full-time role as a lecturer in bakery and patisserie in 2002. I’m also a subject learning coach, which I really enjoy. You need empathy with your students to get your message across and to make sure that your lessons aren’t boring, but exciting.
What’s your average day?
I’ve recently opened a new shop in Buxton Salts Artisan Bakers as I’d always wanted to have my own business again. It’s not a great time to do it, but there is more interest and awareness in the speciality breads that we’re doing, such as sourdough, and I think it will really take off slowly but surely.
My wife Rachel works with me and has learnt to bake. I start at 2am, bake until 7.30am when Rachel takes over in the shop, and then I come to the college until 5pm when I sometimes teach karate. I’m number two in the world and have a training room above the shop, which I can nip up to.
What motivates you to work so hard?
It is a long day, but we hope to get some help after Christmas I’ve got some good students to choose from at the college after all! I’m really passionate about what I do and getting to the semi-finals of the 2008 Bakery World Cup in Lille was a real highlight of my career.
I like to be the best and get things right and I’ve never had a day off.