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Three tasty wins for baking students

Armed with mouthwatering chocolate, ginger and chilli pull-apart loaf, 100% rye sourdough and a three-layer blackforest gateau, Kangan Institute baking students have once again wowed baking industry experts from across Victoria.

Baking students Russell Sawtell and Rosario Thomas have clinched first and second place awards at the Baking Association of Australia’s annual Victorian Baking Show held in Shepparton on 14 March.

The event involved industry and student competitors in a bake-off across more than 30 categories

For Russell Sawtell who achieved first place awards for sourdough rye and gourmet pull apart loaf categories, his focus on creating unique products helped him stand out amongst the entries.

“For my pull-apart loaf I chose chocolate, ginger and chili flavours, which was a combination I liked. It also ensured the bread was a little bit different so it would capture the attention of the judges,” he said.

“I also used a combination of sweet dough and charcoal dough. The white and black colours made it look visually appealing.”

Russell’s love for baking began many years ago as an avid home baker while still working within an office environment. He founded the award-winning Northcote-based Blokes’ Bake Club in 2018, a regular gathering for men to come together to learn how to bake. Seeking a formal baking qualification at TAFE was a natural next step for Russell.

“I wanted to take my passion and turn it into a career,” said the Northcote resident.

“I love the fact that the course at Kangan Institute is hands on, with majority of course time spent in the kitchen baking and getting my hands dirty.

“My teacher Matthew is someone with a wealth of experience. He’s someone I can bounce off ideas with – without leaning on him for a bit of support I wouldn’t have gotten these results.”

The award win was a confidence boost for Russell.

“It feels really good to win these awards, especially when up against people who work in the industry full-time. It feels really rewarding.”

The second place award for three-layer gateau category went to former nurse Rosario Thomas whose blackforest creation was inspired by a love for nature and bush scenery.

“I used a few different techniques in this cake, which was very challenging,” said the Hadfield resident who was participating in a baking competition for the first time.

“To win second in this competition is an amazing experience for a first-timer like me. I thank my teachers Matthew Miles and Frederick Money as they were the ones who encouraged me to join.”

Pursuing a qualification in baking was meant to be for Rosario who stopped working in health after her son was born. Rosario has always had a passion for cake making, with cake decorating a family trade.

“I chose to study baking because it’s always been my passion to create designs on cakes and express myself using different colours and techniques. Most of us (in my family) are cake decorators; my brother in the United States is a master cake decorator,” she shared.

The duo will join the ranks of other Kangan Institute award-winning students who have taken out medals at previous Victorian Baking Shows, which are held annually. This year, a total of four Kangan Institute students participated in the competition.

Kangan Institute CEO Sally Curtain said the students’ achievements reflected their passion for the trade and strong guidance by experienced teachers.

“Well done to Russell and Rosario, as well as the other Kangan Institute competitors, who rose to the challenge and demonstrated their skills, creativity and expertise amongst other industry and student competitors,” she said.

“Our students’ wins demonstrate their passion for the craft and the unwavering support from our teachers to help them achieve success in the trade.”

Russell and Rosario are completing the Certificate III in Bakery (FBP30521) at Kangan Institute’s commercial bakery training kitchen at Broadmeadows campus.

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