Nelson baker Aidan Horner did not want to enter a national competition.
However, his boss at Quality Bakers in Nelson talked him into it and and now the 22 year old has been named Young Bread Baker of the Year.
The award is sponsored by the NZ Association of Bakers and is designed to promote excellence in people emerging from their training.
Aidan, from Quality Bakers in Nelson, and Bree Scott, from Lyttelton Bakery, were declared joint winners following judging in Auckland.
They had to demonstrate their abilities in practical baking, do a one and a half hour theory exam testing their knowledge of baking technology, and give a 10-minute presentation of research into current baking industry trends in salt reduction. The judges said their practical skills in particular were impressive.
Aidan said he wasn't confident going into the five-hour baking competition but was pleased with how his baking turned out, especially his Chelsea buns with a lemon curd and chocolate chip filling. "I nailed it," he said.
He started baking when he was a 14-year-old Waimea College student and got a part-time job at Fresh Choice in Richmond. Not keen on an office job when he left school he decided to become a baker and gained an apprenticeship at Quality Bakers.
He's been there for five years and been qualified for a year and half.
He works around all the departments at the bakery which produces between 34,000 and 44,000 loaves a day for Nelson and Christchurch, and three tonnes of pastry a week.
"I'm glad I listen to him," Aidan said of site manager Shaun Merson who persuaded him to have a go at the competition.
Aidan is the second national winner from Quality Bakers in Nelson. Last year Robert Reihana won and used his award to go to the International Baking Industry Exposition in California last year.
Aidan is also keen to use his $7000 research grant to travel to broaden his industry knowledge and may go to the expo which this year is in Germany.
Mr Merson said the company encouraged its young bakers, giving them time off the job to do their apprenticeship and worked with them one on one.
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