A switch from professional cookery to follow a more specialised cuisine has proved the right move for South Eastern Regional College (SERC) student Eimear McCarthy, a finalist in the WorldSkills UK national Patisserie and Confectionery competition which will be held in Belfast 14 – 18 November.
Eimear (18) from Portaferry, honed her skills on the Level 2 Bakery course before progressing to the Level 3 in Patisserie and Confectionery. She said, “I only started baking a year before I came to SERC. I loved watching programmes like Cake Boss which inspired me to bake. No one in my family baked, so much of what I learnt before coming to the College was self-taught. Having the structure of the course means that I have been building on my knowledge and skills throughout the course as the year progresses, plus you are learning from professionals who have worked in the industry.
She added, “I cannot believe how much I have achieved and learnt over the past two years, from setting up my own enterprise Eimear Bakes (available on Instagram and Facebook), to being selected for a two-week placement in Valencia where I got the opportunity to learn to make traditional Spanish cakes and bakes in a factory-based bakery supplying local Dolce de Leche shops, to a silver medal at IFEX for my chocolate work, to a place in the WorldSkills National Finals.
Eimear continued, “Taking part in the Regionals and now the National Finals means there has been a lot of additional work, but with that comes additional mentoring and training, for example, attending masterclasses with Florian Poirot, Master Pâtissier and one on sugar craft through Renshaw, the leading manufacturer of ready to roll icing, marzipan, frostings, caramel and mallow. It is all fantastic preparation for WorldSkills, but it is also skills and learning that I take on board for the future.
Speaking about the WorldSkills Competition in November, Eimear said, “The theme for the competition is Fairground so we have to work to incorporate the visuals and flavours of the theme into a sugar showpiece, mini pastries, model figures in sugar paste, and a hot dessert – all of which we can rehearse and perfect. We also have a mystery basket which will contain ingredients for competitors to produce something on the day. It will all be challenging, but my plan is to be well prepared, keep my cool and remember all the learning I have gained to date.”
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