South Auckland bread and pastry lovers are beating down the doors at Bakers Delight Manukau, to taste the sublime offerings from NZMA cookery student Sudara Udeshan.
The 22 year old from Sri Lanka has just won the 2014 Bakers Delight National Baking Competition. According to judges, he makes some of the best bread in the country.
Held at Villa Maria Estate on November 18, the competition drew around 100 participants, who were tasked with making one white bread roll and one grain seed loaf. It was the first cooking competition Sudara has ever entered, so to win first place was a huge thrill.
“I was so surprised and happy. My parents are very proud,” he said.
Sudara’s parents are back in his home country Sri Lanka. He left them last year to move to New Zealand and pursue his passion for baking. He’s now studying towards his Level 5 Diploma in Professional Cookery at NZMA, and working 20 hours a week at Bakers Delight Manukau.
“I’ve always loved baking pastries and bread. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do! Back in Sri Lanka I gained my Level 4 pastry and bakery qualification and then worked for 18 months in bread dough. But I wanted to learn more about baking on an international level, so I came to New Zealand to work and study.”
Sudara spends his days studying at NZMA Sylvia Park, and then works the graveyard shift (from around midnight to 8 or 9am) three nights a week at Bakers Delight. The combination, though exhausting, has taught him a lot and enabled him to fine-tune his already impressive baking skills.
“I’ve learnt so much about baking both through my work colleagues and my NZMA tutors. Although the process of baking is the same in New Zealand as it is in Sri Lanka, the actual items we cook are quite different. In Sri Lanka we bake a lot of very sweet pastries and cakes, whereas in New Zealand it’s all about bread and pies. Especially grain breads. They’re huge here!”
When Sudara completes his cookery studies half way through next year he plans to go full-time at Bakers Delight and keep developing his skills. Eventually though he hopes to start up his own Bakers Delight franchise Down Under.