April 30th, 2013

Inspiring a new generation of bakers

Graham Heaven is passionate about baking. In fact he is so dedicated to passing on the knowledge, skills and enjoyment of baking, that twice a year he opens the doors of the Napier based Plant & Food Research bakery to senior high school students.

Most recently, seventeen Year 11 students from Wairoa College in Hawkes Bay were invited for a day of hands-on baking experience – giving the students an opportunity to see inside a commercial kitchen for the first time and be exposed to what a career in baking is really like.

“The students loved having the baked items to take home and they really got a lot of learning out of the day,” says Shelley Murphy, the accompanying teacher from Wairoa College.

Graham, who works as a tutor and assessor for training provider Plant & Food Research, funds the open days himself, providing ingredients and bringing over 40 years’ worth of baking knowledge to the table.

Baking Specialist Peter Rood and Account Manager Wayne Carpendale from the baking industry training organisation Competenz supported Graham on the day, with Peter running a cake making tutorial where each student crafted their very own black forest gateau.

In the 1970’s, Graham, who has been baking all his life, opened the first of now six Heavens’ Bakeries with his wife Denise. Their sons have since come into the business, and the baking spirit encompasses three generations of the Heaven family – including grandson Sam Heaven who last year won the Rising Young Baker competition at the Fine Food New Zealand show.

With Graham’s enthusiasm and ability to provide opportunities like these baking open days, and with the support of Competenz, it is hoped more young students will consider the baking industry as a viable career option. “The future of baking lies in the hands of students who enter the baking school and complete on-the-job apprenticeships.”