Alexander Slinger

Skilled Futures - Retail Bread Baking


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Alex Slinger is a 2016/17 Skilled Futures -Retail Baking Awardee. He travelled to the UK in September 2017 to develop his skills in different styles of bread baking, in addition to having a once in a lifetime experience. Read on to learn more about his trip.

“After receiving the silver medal in the 2016 Worldskills National Competition in Retail Baking – Bread I knew that the journey wasn’t over for me and I wanted to continue my search for knowledge and experience within the baking industry.

I applied for the BBM Youth Support  Award because I knew that it would give me the opportunity to explore the world and learn about all the different kinds of breads that each culture has to offer.

When I learned that I had been successful in my application I knew that I had to a bit of research about the bakeries that I would like to do some work experience at. In researching the bakeries I learnt that there were lots of places that I could learn from all over the U.K.

On my arrival in the U.K I wasted no time and started work at a artisan wholesale bakery in Horley which has been in business for about 7 yeras now called Chalk hills bakery. They had a small production but had lots of room to grow. With the production being small they gave me the opportunity to experiment with ingredients and flavours in which I hadn’t used before, one being seaweed.

I was able to play around with the recipe and create a new loaf of bread since they have now added to their production. Seaweed and toasted sesame sourdough.

Also I made a range of different production such at croissants, quiche and different tarts.

Once I finished my time at Chalk Hills Bakery I moved closer to the centre of London and did two weeks at Dunns bakery. This bakery has been a family owned business in Crouch end for almost 200 years. I was eager to get in and see what they had to offer. The product was not very different to what I had previously worked with but they had some amazing old equipment that I thought you would only see in a museum. One being a really old Artofex double diving arm mixer which I actually got to use. I also got to use a setter which actually went into the prover and I had never seen that before so that was another experience.

After my two weeks was up at Dunns Bakery I travelled to Belgium where I visited Puratos which I one of the biggest ingredient companies in the world for bread, cake and pastry production.

I only spent one day here but I managed to learn so much and got to experiment and use many different flavours and ingredients to produce products such as sprouted rye and seeded mustard, sourdough baguettes and a seaweed and cheddar bread.

I recommend future BBM Youth Support Awardees to do as much research as possible as this could be a once in a life time opportunity and you would not want to waste it on a place that you feel like you did not gain as much knowledge and experience as you would have wanted. To awardees in the bread industry, definitely make your way to Puratos in Belgium. They are always striving for new and great things in the bread world and all you will do while your there is soak it all in learn.

This experience has been like no other. I have met some amazing people and learnt some amazing things not only about bread but about myself and what I want from my career. You only get the rewards as long as you put the hard work in. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t put in the effort required to be the best you can be.”

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