CPIT bakery students set new competition record

CPIT bakery students set new competition record

Three CPIT Bakery students have made history. For the first time, three members from one training provider have been selected as finalists in the Weston Milling Trainee of the Year competition.

Flynn Knowles-Barley, Rochelle Drury and Jessica Deng impressed judges with their high calibre bread, brownie and strudel creations, taking out three of the nine top spots from 120 competitors nationwide. They are now eagerly practising for the finals, to be held at the Fine Food Show in Auckland on June 17 and 18.


Jessica Deng, Rochelle Drury and Flynn Knowles-Barley practise their bread making skills in the CPIT Bakery.

12 first year CPIT bakery students entered the competition for the first time with only three months formal training behind them. They spent long hours practising outside of class time with tutor Mike Meaclem. “I encouraged students to enter as the competition is an excellent learning opportunity,” he said. “They all made a big commitment and I am very proud of them. It is fantastic that three of them made it through to the finals.”

Producing the perfect pastry for their strudels was particularly challenging. Students discovered the best method through trial after trial, including practising in different ovens. “If the pastry in a strudel is wrong, everything is wrong. A lot of the preparation involved breaking the rules of baking, something you sometimes have to do to get a product just right,” said Meaclem.

CPIT students also had the additional challenge of having to courier their goods all the way to Auckland for judging. This meant they had to be prepared four days in advance and last the distance before being sampled by the judges. They received praise for their handmade packaging and labels in particular.

The three finalists will first head to a workshop in Napier where they will learn from the baking professionals at Weston Milling, before finding out what their final tasks will be. The final competition will be conducted live at the Fine Food Show in a format similar to televised cooking shows.

The students are thrilled with being placed in the finals and are excited about the opportunity to compete further. “It has been a fun learning experience and I am happy to have made it this far. We will do our best with the backing of our CPIT tutors,” said finalist Rochelle Drury.

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