Have you considered baking as a career? Perhaps cake making is more your thing? Do you also have a sense of adventure and fancy travelling around the world?
I spoke to Mark Cooper, Bakery and Patisserie lecturer at Trafford College who, despite struggling at school, went on to do all this and much more. Quite an inspiration.
“I am really glad I chose a career in baking and cake making. It opened up a world of opportunities for me that I would never have dreamed of.
I had had a difficult life and, after leaving school with few qualifications, I didn’t know what to do and whether I could be good at anything. However, I studied an apprenticeship in a local bakery and patisserie and since then I have worked in some of the most luxurious five-star hotel and restaurants in the world.
It has not all been easy, I have had to work hard and be committed to achieve success.
Yes, this did mean working all hours on low pay at times, in pressurised atmospheres which meant a lack of sleep and I did missing family and friends – but it has all been worthwhile.
I have gained respected international qualifications, a lot of experience, confidence and working skills including management training. On top of all that I’ve made lots of friends from the many different countries I visited.
I’ve worked in St Moritz Switzerland and some very posh fine bakeries and confectioners in Germany and that is also where I got my Masters qualification in Baking and
Confectionary. As an Executive Pastry Chef I was responsible for running and managing patisserie sections. I was fortunate enough to work for Chateau Lake Louise in Canada, Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Dubai, Ritz Carlton in Indonesia. The most mind blowing experience for me was working for the Royal family of Qatar.
Each new opportunity has pushed me to become better and progress to the next level. I have been able to control my career and decide what direction I wanted to take. By the time I worked on the QE2 I was confident about creating menus and teaching junior staff. Since coming back to the UK I have worked in the retail sector for large cake and bakery companies in their product development department creating new cakes, breads and pastries.
It hasn’t all been about work! In the places where I have worked and with the colleagues I have met I have always been able to lead a great lifestyle. I became a ski teacher, learned how to ice-climb, and enjoyed some wonderful backpacking experiences with great
friends. I’ve become more adventurous with food, experienced many different cuisines and also learned different languages. However, this was all made possible through hard work, believing in myself and my commitment to experiencing as much in life as I could.
I am now passing on all my experience and knowledge as a lecturer of Bakery and Patisserie at Trafford college, where my students are taught the skills to be successful in an ever changing industry. I try to guide my students when deciding which area they want to specialise in i.e. pastry, bakery or cake decoration. I also advise them about the importance of maths and English and how these subjects can help them in their careers. I try to show them that pastry and bakery courses aren’t just about completing courses, gaining the skills and then going off into industry. I hope they learn that they can study in college and then university if they want to-in subjects like food nutrition, new product development, food entrepreneurship, bakery and confectionery manufacturing.
At college my students gain practical skills in the well equipped kitchens and also go out into industry-gaining valuable work experience in hotels, restaurants, retail, bakeries, dessert production sites. They will get the chance to take part in competitions, running shows and volunteering events. These are all key skills in becoming a success in the industry and I am more than happy to support in any way that I can.”
If you would like any further information regarding becoming a student with us at Trafford College, please feel free to contact Mark on the details below
Telephone 0161 952 4643
Twitter: Trafford College @patisseriearts