There are miniature French pastries, chocolate bon-bons, mousse cake and sugar showpieces are being created by the students of Baking and Pastry Arts Management for the Skills Ontario competition this May.
The Skills Ontario competition set this year’s baking theme, the Nature and Wildlife of Canada, along with a long list of rules and ingredients. The contestants began to work within those restrictions to learn time management and recipe development.
But the challenge has just begun.
“They practice once a week for the first couple of months, as we get closer to the competition we will increase it to two times a week, in the last month we start doing full day trial runs,” said instructor Chef Susan Joseph. “So, they know what the timing is going to be for the competition.”
She said the diploma students need to have an excellent sense of pastry applications and hand piping skills for this competition. They have to use a variety of different mediums to create artistic show pieces during the eight-hour-long competition.
“You have to find the recipes that you want to use and then you got to practice the recipes to make sure they make just the right amount,” said Stefanie Francavilla, a second-year pastry student and second-time contestant.
“There are quantities saying how much they want of everything,” she said. “You want to make sure you don’t have any excess cause you lose marks for any excess ingredients that you use, for wastage.”
The competition judges students’ resumes and stages mock interviews to verify their professional attitude, respectfulness, thoughtfulness and awareness, Joseph said.
Francavilla said Humber pays for all the ingredients the students practice with. They try and order only what is needed for the next week and sell the pastries as part of the items sold at Gourmet Express, a student-supplied café at North campus. This also helps keep tuition costs manageable.
Expectations are high as this is the qualifying year for the Worlds Skills competition. Humber is especially whipped to win.
“We’re going to give them as many resources as we can so that they can make it and be successful,” Joseph said.
Francaville says she’s ready to excel.
“This year I’m hoping to do better,” she said as she added the finishing touches on a practice cake. “Ideally, top three would be great, but definitely top half for sure. This year I’m much more focused and I’ve had a lot more practice with things.”