An apprentice at Kurri Kurri's Bread Basket bakery has received a prestigious national award.
Lucas Staff was named the apprentice baker of the year at the National Excellence in Baking Awards, which were held in Sydney shortly prior to the COVID lockdown.
State finalists went head-to-head in an epic bake-off for the national title at the annual event hosted by the Baking Association of Australia at the Baking Industry Trade Show.
Lucas, 21, is in the final months of his apprenticeship and Certificate III in Baking at TAFE NSW Hamilton.
He says his teachers sharing their industry experience helped him master his timings to create the required 15 baking products within the competition's six-hour timeframe.
"My teachers really helped me prepare. Their passion and ability to convey hard concepts from artisan breads to chemical formulas and share their knowledge has been inspiring," he said.
"This award is an amazing thing to have on my resume, and I enjoyed every part of the competition from the judges to the competitors.
"I want to keep learning everything I can and be the best in this industry."
Baking Association of Australia, Executive Officer Tony Smith says it was a close finish between finalists, with the winning points coming down to presentation.
"Lucas's presentation was outstanding, and he now joins an alumnus of successful winners, many that have further refined their skills to compete internationally and mentor aspiring bakers," he said.
TAFE NSW head teacher of baking, Lodewijk De Winter said Lucas's national award was testament to his commitment to excellence in the baking industry.
"We're very proud of Lucas. He demonstrated a high standard of technical ability and a strong commitment to growing his skills to compete at the national level," he said.
"Lucas is proof that the practical skills and experience offered at TAFE NSW equip students to compete at the national level, giving our students a competitive edge when launching their careers."
Employment growth is expected to continue in the bakery industry, with the workforce predicted to peak at 31,000 workers by 2025.