There are probably not too many 18-year-olds whom you could have a lively conversation with about the challenges of inventing a porridge/Genoese mix Scottish breakfast cake, decorated with a blue and white fondant Scottish flag. No wonder that the inventor of that particular regional delicacy, Kyle Hendry, made an impression on judges of the Trainee Baker of the Year Award at the Baking Industry Awards last year.
Hendry, who just finished his bakery modern apprenticeship with supplier Macphie of Glenbervie at the end of March this year, was picked as the winner of the coveted Trainee Baker Award in 2010, a category sponsored by skills training council Improve and the National Skills Academy. Hendry says that experimenting with new types of food and trying new recipes was the highlight of his apprenticeship period and now of his day-to-day job at the Scottish food ingredients supplier. "Now and again you come out with something that is really good and that is exciting," he says.
Entering the baking industry
Baking is definitely Hendry’s niche in life, but he says he was not aware that there was even such a thing as a baking industry when he was at school, although he always thought that he "wanted to be something in the food industry". His mum, who worked at food ingredients manufacturer Macphie, put him in touch with the firm about work experience placements when he was only 15. He immediately became very interested in baking and that led to him starting a bakery apprenticeship with the company when he was 16. "Before Macphie I did not have a clue that there even was a baking industry," says Hendry. "I don’t think that there is enough publicity about baking; young people are not told about it as a career option. Among all my friends, I am the only person I know who has gone into the industry."
"Apart from his high level technical skills, one of the things that stood out about Kyle Hendry was his passion for his job and for bakery. He is completely fascinated by all things bread and that really shone through to judges.
"He is never afraid to speak up, so that makes him a good ambassador for his company and for the whole baking industry."
Jack Matthews, chief executive, Improve the food & drink skills council
Hendry’s apprenticeship period with Macphie is now complete and he is a qualified baker, with an SVQ in baking. Macphie automatically took him on as a member of staff, and his day-to-day job with the company includes working out technical challenges and refining recipes and ingredients, as well as developing new ones. He also enjoys travelling to meet Macphie’s customers to help with recipes in their bakeries and to show them new products.
Kyle Hendry’s apprenticeship period at Macphie of Glenbervie included being sent out to work in various craft bakery companies, to experience life as a baker on a day-to-day basis, he says. He also worked on special projects on dough and confectionery, such as his Scottish breakfast cake. Throughout, he was encouraged to experiment with recipes and also take part in competitions in the baking industry.
One competition he entered was the James Allan Memorial Trophy, a national competition run by the Scottish Bakery Training Council.
He produced a rustic French cob and a four seasons gateau for the event in the course of a day’s baking. The attention to detail and craftmanship that he displayed led judges to award him the highly-respected James Allan trophy. That early win helped to inspire him to enter the Trainee Baker of the Year category at the Baking Industry Awards in 2010, supported by his employer.
Once again, he impressed judges with both his talent for baking and the dedication to the industry in evidence even at such an early stage in his career.
In the longer term, Hendry says that he has not mapped out a definite career path as yet. August will be the third anniversary of his starting out to work at Macphie, and his job there ticks all the boxes for him at the moment. He comments: "I do not know where life will take me really. I have not really thought about it yet. I would love to travel and to move abroad somewhere eventually."
And a fine overseas ambassador for the baking industry he would no doubt make.