Justin Alblas of George Weston Foods congratulates Matt Watson on winning the 2016 Young Bread Baker of the Year Competition. Photo supplied.

Nelsonian named NZ’s top bread baker


After two days of rigorous theoretical and practical testing, Nelson bread baker Matt Watson has won the 2016 Young Bread Baker of the Year Competition held in Auckland yesterday.

Matt Watson of Quality Bakers Nelson receives a $10,000 research grant, which he plans to use to visit AB Mauri in the Netherlands to learn more about enzymes.

Matt Watson in action at the 2016 Young Bread Baker of the Year Competition.
Matt Watson in action at the 2016 Young Bread Baker of the Year Competition.

Judging Co-ordinator Tania Watson of the New Zealand Association of Bakers says the objective of the competition is to find and reward the best newly qualified young bread baker in the country, and to identify bakers with potential whose talents can be fostered with development opportunities and mentoring.

“It’s great to have both plant and craft bakeries represented this year. They bring different strengths and challenges to the competition but they have all done remarkably well.  If nothing else, this serves as a confidence builder and shows them what they are capable of.”

The competition requires entrants to demonstrate their ability in three areas: practical baking, theoretical knowledge of baking technology, and presentation of research – this year on bread from the USA, the UK and New Zealand.

Judge Everard Wijdeveld of NZ Bakels, where the competition was held, says being a top master baker requires talent, knowledge and skill, but more importantly passion, commitment and the right attitude. “This year’s Young Bakers have all shown that they have these traits. There is no doubt that they will enrich the New Zealand baking industry in years to come.”

Judge Mark Harris from Couplands Bakeries sees the entrants as future leaders in the baking industry. “It’s interesting to note the differences between plant and craft trained bakers, but they all have a high level of skill.”

Judge Tony Gunby of Competenz says the calibre of entrants this year was high. “I’m confident the future of our industry is in good hands after seeing their abilities. Today was about doing what they normally do at work but with three judges watching them and questioning them. That’s not easy.”