A young woman in bakers whites being presented a certificate by an older man with a gold, presidential chain on

Source: Christina Cullen

Christina Cullen being presenter her certificate by CBA president Patrick Wilkins

Christina Cullen was among the lucky few to secure a place on a recent bursary course at The School of Artisan Food, provided by the Worshipful Company of Bakers. 

Cullen graduated last October from London South Bank University with a 1st class Honours BSc in Baking Science and Technology. She took the degree a little later in life (at 26 years old) after discovering the joy of baking whilst trying to get a job. Her passion lies in baking and writing, with the ambition of working for a food magazine, so she undertook the degree to gain knowledge of food science and how to develop recipes. 

Below, she shares her experience of the course and the insight it offered her into the industry:


Set within the beautiful Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire is the very grand Welbeck estate, host to The School of Artisan Food where I recently completed a five-day bursary course.

What was once a monastery in the 12th century has since been passed through generations of the Dukes of Portland, each one cultivating their own stamp on this self-contained domain. I was rather impressed by the grandiose of Welbeck, and learned many of the secrets it holds including the tunnels running all the way into Worksop to avoid the locals.

Sourdough loaves in a wooden tray

Source: Christina Cullen

I was presented the opportunity of the bursary course whilst studying at the National Bakery School within London South Bank University. The course was facilitated by the Worshipful Company of Bakers, who play an active part in bakery education to help open up possibilities for young people or to existing educators to improve their skills.

What appealed to me most about the course at The School of Artisan Food was that it focused on breadmaking. This was an area I felt I was unfairly lacking. My degree had suffered as a result of the pandemic which had hindered the practical side of things, particularly within bread fermentation.

As such, I wanted to improve my skills and was delighted when my application was approved.

Pain au chocolat in a lovely wicker basket

Source: Christina Cullen

The first three days of the course focused on production in a bakery and making bread on a larger scale, something I was unfamiliar with having only produced two loaves at a time. Split into three groups we collectively made sourdough loaves, rye bread, and hot cross buns to name a few and were spoiled with homemade pizzas.

The last remaining days focused on pastry work and Viennoiserie. Many croissants and pain au chocolat were produced, and the teachers encouraged all levels of creativity with many fun ideas worked in.

It was incredible to work with existing bakers and when speaking with them of my own experience, they were unaware that a degree in baking science was possible. Many of them belonged to bakeries passed through generations or took up baking because it did not feel like work.

The group worked extremely well together, and we unified through our passion for crafting baked goods, whether they were bread or desserts, not to mention the bonus of tasting everything we made. Let’s just say we were never hungry!

I was personally elated for my reunion with Kevan Roberts the bread teacher at The School of Artisan Food. He taught me for my Level Five year at the National Bakery School and I was always fond of his methods with patience and kindness.

My main takeaway from the course was that the baking industry has such a strong community, no matter which direction baking leads you. I come from a very different path to my fellow learners, my interests lie in the food chemistry as well as food writing and styling, but I always want to improve my skills and grow my confidence on the practical side.

The bursary was a brilliant way to network and gain connections. A frequent phrase I heard during the week was that the baking industry is large but also very small. Everyone seems to know each other, you’ll nearly always have a friendly familiar face as you weave through companies, particularly useful when you are early on in your career. I am now confident I can use this knowledge and skills to continue my career in the baking industry and educate others in this growing community.

Applications are currently open for The Worshipful Company of Bakers summer 2024 course, which takes place at the internationally renowned Richemont Centre of Excellence in Lucerne, Switzerland. This prestigious course is designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of recently graduated students and apprentices, who are already at a very advanced level of their bakery education, or craft bakers with long experience who wish to broaden or refresh their knowledge and skills. 

The course runs from Sunday 21 July to Friday 26 July 2024 inclusive. The Worshipcul Co is accepting applications until midnight on Friday 23 February 2024 via its website www.bakers.co.uk/.