July 2024

Rising star students taste sweet success in annual bakery awards

By Sean Madden

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Read time: approx 6 mins

Students from University College Birmingham swept the board yet again at the Alliance of Bakery Students and Trainees (ABST) Awards.

The talents of further and higher education students from Birmingham College of Food shone through for yet another year, as they won an impressive 17 gold, 10 silver, and 11 bronze medals across almost 30 categories.

Represented at the prestigious awards ceremony, held at Alton Towers, were 13 other colleges from across the nation, with a staggering 600 individual entrants showcasing their craft in a variety of categories encompassing all aspects of baking - from fruit loaves and celebration cupcakes to healthy treats.

The University excelled across the board, but the further education cohort picked up some especially impressive results, particularly in group competitions. Bakery Level 3 students Sally-Ann Griffiths, Leah Evans, Christopher Hutson, and Courtney Bravington took home gold in the Founders' Cup, while Level 2's Sophie Sweeney, Chloe Natalie Pierce, and Amelie Davies did the same in the Junior Challenge Cup.

Jo Dainton, former further education Bakery Level 2 and 3 student and now third year BSc Bakery and Patisserie Technology student, won an impressive four medals including three gold and one silver, plus the prestigious award of Best Confectionery in Show with her Renshaw decorative celebration cake.

Jamie Cowburn, who is in the second year of his foundation degree in Bakery and Patisserie Technology, won an impressive four medals, and was full of praise for both the competition and the University.

"I couldn't believe I'd done as well as I had!" he said. "Seeing my finished baked products made me feel so proud of myself and it will be something I look back at fondly for a very long time.

"I'm glad University College Birmingham gave me the chance to put the skills I've learned to the test, and I can't wait to do it all again."

“The experience and exposure from the ABST awards will be so helpful for the rest of their careers. The industry views it as almost a talent-spotting exercise, and the students should be proud that they've been able to get out there and show them what they can do.”

Graham Duckworth Bakery Lecturer and ABST Competitions Secretary

Staff from the College of Food

Impressing under pressure

Running the rule over the competition was a high-level panel of experienced judges from the worlds of industry and academia, including ex-presidents of the Worshipful Company of Bakers and the Chairman of the Craft Bakers Association, alongside industry bosses and college staff. Judges made their way through over two thousand entries to pick the cream of the crop.

Students from the college of Food have competed at the ABST for over 15 years and on this occasion managed to win a staggering 37 medals across 23 categories. These successes included the impressive feat of three medals in the 'live' categories, which involve showcasing complex skills such as marzipan modelling and piping.

Senior lecturer and judge Caroline Dunnell was full of praise for the students' dedication and hard work. "The standard of competition entries at this year conference was exceptionally high, with an impressive 2000 entries. Competitions likes this take months of planning and preparation and it could not be achieved without the support from industry and the volunteers of the ABST committee.

"For many of our bakery students it was their first time entering a competition and to come away with so many awards and prizes we could not be prouder."

some of the many winning entries

A full list of our award winners:

Industry Competition
Gold: Alex Day

The Novices Cup
Highly Commended: Sally-Ann Griffiths

Founders' Cup (group competition)
Gold: Sally-Ann Griffiths, Leah Evans, Christopher Hutson, Courtney Bravington

Founders' Cup Best in Class
Gold: Sally-Ann Griffiths (Best Loaf)

Junior Challenge Cup
Gold: Sophie Sweeney, Chloe Natalie Pierce, Amelie Davies

Bakery and Confection Trophy
Gold: Caitlin Denby

Blandy Cup:
Silver: Courtney Bravington

Celebration Cupcake Challenge
Gold: Karmiah Broomes
Silver: Iowen Faulconbridge

Renshaw Decorative Class
Gold: Jo Dainton
Bronze: Courtney Bravington

Carved Novelty
Highly Commended: Aliyaan Khan

Goldex Cup
Highly Commended: Ellie Checketts

Devon Rose Bowl
Gold: Jo Dainton
Bronze: Amber Hickey

Shortbread Trophy
Bronze: Chloe Natalie Pierce
Highly Commended: Silvana Mebrahtu

The Harvester Class
Gold: Jamie Cowburn

The Harvester Class (Best In Class)
Gold: Silvana Mebrahtu (rolls); Jamie Cowburn (cob loaf)
Silver: Niamh Burke-Tomlinson (cob loaf), Jamie Cowburn (tin loaf and rolls)
Bronze: Caitlin Denby (cob loaf), Silvana Mebrahtu (tin loaf), Maryann Thurgood (rolls)

The Masters' Cup
Silver: Sawdah Choudhury

The Masters' Cup (Best in Class)
Gold: Niamh Burke-Tomlinson (wholemeal tin), Kiera Curtis (coburg)

The British Society of Baking Trophy
Gold: Jamie Cowburn

Fruit Loaf Challenge
Gold: Silvana Mebrahtu
Silver: Hinda Jire
Gold: Libby Worswick

The Mandy Wansell (Danish)
Silver: Jo Dainton
Highly Commended: Sophie Parmenter

Healthy Eating Innovation Award
Highly Commended: Fern Donavon

IBB Live Piping Class (Miniature Cakes)
Bronze: Anisha Ahmed

Live Marzipan Modelling
Gold: Jo Dainton

The Wrights Trophy (Dead Dough Modelling)
Bronze: Alex Kai Day

The Lamination Innovation Award
Silver: Hinda Jire
Bronze Silvana Mebrahtu
Highly Commended: Phebe Foulkes

The Innovation Award (Burger Bun and Morning Goods)
Gold: Sawday Choudhury
Silver: Silvana Mebrahtu
Bronze: Hinda Jire
Highly Commended: Amelie Davies

In pictures: student bakers and their entries

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