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Sweet Treats on the Menu for Marija at WorldSkillsUK Finals

A place in the WorldSkillsUK finals is just for starters for a South Eastern Regional College (SERC) student who will pit her skills against her peers from across the UK in the Patisserie and Confectionery of the WorldSkillsUK National Competition 14 – 18 November in Belfast.

Marija Kuzaite (17) from Coalisland, a Level 3 Patisserie and Confectionery student at the College’s Lisburn Campus plans to keep her cool in the kitchen for what is known as the ‘Olympics of Skills’ competition.   She says, “On the first day, we will prepare an afternoon tea which will include pastries and plated desserts, so we can practise these to make sure they are perfect and have a good idea of the timings.

“The second day focusses on a sugar showpiece and sugar paste models, and again this can all be practised prior to the competition, and I will work up my own detailed plan for what will best show my skills and creativity.  At College, we have been lucky enough to have Masterclasses with world renowned Master Pâtissier, Florian Poirot, and a representative from Renshaws, the icing favoured by professional bakers.

She continued, “On the final day there will be a ‘mystery basket’ and competitors will find out on the day what we are required to make.   It might be a bit unnerving, but it will be important to keep my cool and remember all that I have learnt in order to pull it all together on the day.   I am excited and a little nervous about the competition however, all the tuition, mentoring and masterclasses have been fantastic.   The experience and knowledge are something I will always have and be able to use in the future.

Marija, who came to SERC following her GCSE’s at St Joseph’s in Coalisland said, “I was always interested in the patisserie side of cooking, but many courses focus on the chef element, so when I found out from a friend that I could do the Level 2 Professional Bakery and then progress to the Level 3 in Professional Cookery – Patisserie and Confectionery, I knew that was the route for me.

A passion for patisserie is evident when the young lady speaks about desserts. She added, “I really enjoy the chocolate work that we are doing in Level 3 as it builds on but is different from what I did in Level 2, so I am learning something new all the time.

“I am also enjoying producing mignardises – small desserts, petit fours, pastries, and chocolates – as we are learning all about flavours and presentation.   I love it when we are concentrating on one flavour for example, raspberry and then I get to make something with a mousse, a mirror glaze using glucose, chocolate and gelatine, and a gel on the inside, all with the one flavour.  

Marija concluded, “I would certainly recommend coming to SERC if you are interested in Patisserie and Confectionery. There is great camaraderie in the class and as well as learning from the tutors, we learn from each other, so your confidence grows as you progress through the course.   Even now, when I first see a recipe and think it looks difficult, I start to think about what I have done, and then when I break it down into the different stages, I realise I have all the skills to try it out and most times it will turn out brilliant.”

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