Third generation Barrington Bakery apprentice Tristan Beisler will feel the heat of the kitchen this week as he competes in the national Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre LA Judge Award competition.
He is the only NSW representative in the program, vying against interstate and New Zealand representatives for the prestigious title of Baking Apprentice of the Year.
Tristan is juggling his second year of the part-time Certificate III in Retail Baking (Combined) course at Hamilton TAFE once a week, practicing for the competition three times a week and working at the Dungog bakery 'at least' five days a week.
Tristan will have plenty of opportunities upon completing his apprenticeship in 18 months. Given his employer is his father, who owns a number of baking enterprises across the Hunter, he may have a good chance of holding onto the baking star.
Tristan is excited about representing the state at the LA Judge Award being held in Sydney from May 14-16, his third competition but the first at a national level.
"I am dead nervous and incredibly humbled, and amazed I was picked over people I see as being more advanced," he said.
"Since I can remember I have been a part of baking in some way, always helping out at the bakery even before starting to officially work there three or so years ago.
"I'm the eldest of eight; we've all played a part.
"I have always enjoyed baking for myself and others, and always considered food a good industry to get into. I know how hard it is to find good staff, so there's always employment opportunities. It was a no-brainer. As for my favourite aspect... something my grandad used to say sums it up: you can have a terrible day one day and then the next walk into the bakery and have an incredible day. That's very appealing."
He said he has learned a lot at TAFE which he sees as a different environment.
"I think of it as a lab rather than a hectic industry bakery," he said.
"Training there is calming in a way.
"Instead of busting through everything you have time to concentrate on what you're doing. You reflect and focus on technique, and the teachers are really helpful."
LA Judge Award competitors are tested on public speaking, theoretical knowledge and work papers, plus an intense creative bake-off.
This year's theme is 'Your Business', so as part of the competition Tristan is creating a quasi bakery shopfront crafted through inspiration from the Barrington Bakery bread bag logo and design.
Tristan's employer and father, Simon Beisler, says he is proud of Tristan and thankful to his TAFE NSW teachers.
"My thanks goes to TAFE NSW Hamilton teachers for devoting their time and effort, even outside teaching hours, to Tristan and his brother Kye," he said.
"We've trained in Melbourne and at other TAFEs but they're nowhere near the excellence of what's delivered in Newcastle."
Tristan is also competing in the annual national Excellence in Baking Awards, being held over 4 and 5 June.
Read more about what motivates Tristan and the other candidates from the AEGIC website.