Trade – Retail Baking
Founder, Baker & Teacher
Matthew Thorpe is a baker and teacher, who runs baking classes that teach the craft of traditional bread making.
In a time when mass produced, sliced loaves in plastic bags are what most families bring home from the supermarket, Matthew’s classes grow the appreciation of hand-crafted quality bread and respect for the trade.
This is Matthew’s story:
I received the BBM scholarship for baking in 2010 and travelled to the UK and Europe in 2011. It was an amazing experience of personal growth and professional development. My comfort zone was extended, my trade skills were enhanced, my aspirational outlook was expanded, and I had a lot of fun in the process.
I visited bakeries and baking companies where innovation is a focus and traditional baking is upheld. I grew in confidence as I witnessed and experienced diverse baking products and processes, from highly trained and experienced bakers. I frequently refer to “when I was overseas” when new ideas or techniques are discussed. My travel overseas has also given me greater exposure to the wider industry thus enabling more technical baking roles and working in jobs requiring product and process development and management. Travelling overseas and gaining international work experience was a big contributor to giving me confidence to start my own business teaching people to bake.
I have chosen to establish my own business operating a baking school to share my passion for baking with home bakers and cooks. I have always enjoyed teaching and helping others learn and achieve – the baking school is a rewarding outlet for this passion. My focus is achieving a professional result in a home kitchen, so I also enjoy the challenge of developing and adapting new methods to suit home kitchens without special commercial equipment. I also enjoy ‘production’ baking scenarios as these settings allow for repeated efforts to achieve consistent product results. My long-term goal is to operate both baking classes and offer baked goods for sale.
Both large and small bakeries have strengths, however generally small businesses have greater flexibility to innovate and implement new ideas quickly, tend to rely less on automation and ‘unskilled’ labour, and by their nature establish more variety across the industry. Small businesses in the baking industry must be valued for the maintaining of diversity and variety available to the consumer and to the wider profession.
Sending young bakers overseas continues to be a valuable exercise. In many ways Australia is an exceptional place to learn (and many from overseas would benefit from visiting selected bakeries here too!), however many regions, especially Europe, has such a concentration of baking history and tradition that young bakers can’t help but be inspired and learn. Most large corporate bakery test kitchens are based overseas, so these present learning opportunities, especially as many of these are centers of cutting-edge innovation.
Each country, and often region, has unique foods and traditions, so there are endless opportunities to learn new and different ways to bake. This benefits the Australian baking industry as these ideas and inspiration is shared and implemented locally with new products and techniques. One associated benefit of sending young Australian bakers overseas is the opportunity to showcase to the world the creativity of the Australian food industry.