November 29th, 2012
Over the past 19 years, the Ten O’clock Cookie Bakery in Masterton has taken on six apprentices – a consistent and dedicated commitment to training considering just one apprentice takes four years to become qualified. “It comes down to a passion for baking and a passion for passing on that passion to newcomers,” says co-owner and manager Michael Kloeg.
Michael’s parents, John and Anneke Kleog, bought the bakery in 1988 after immigrating to New Zealand from The Netherlands. Neither had any substantial experience in the baking industry – John had trained in baking back in The Netherlands and Anneke was a kindergarten teacher.
But their lack of experience didn’t deter them from creating the successful bakery it is today. And it’s clear the family’s passion for the industry and for passing on knowledge has paid off. Three employees, including Michael himself, have won the Apprentice of the Year, and the bakery has won numerous other prizes including three-time winner of the Hot Cross Bun award and gold at the Bakels Pie Awards for their mince and gravy pie.
But what else makes Ten O’clock so successful? Well to start with, Michael’s motto is ‘always try to better your best’ – a value he tries to instil in the minds of his team of 24. “This is pretty self-explanatory. It means if someone is complemented on their beautiful chocolate tart then this becomes the standard to improve on,” says Michael. “By having to work out ‘how can I make this better’ it’s encouraging creativity and innovation.”
Michael believes that anyone can be trained to become a baker, so long as they are willing to learn and are keen to put in the hard yards. “When I look for an apprentice I also look for stability and commitment,” says Michael. “People are so transient these days, I need to ensure that training will be mutually beneficial – the apprentice gains formal recognition of their skills and we get a skilled and productive baker.
“Training is good because it gives our staff something to work towards. We’ve invested a lot of time in our systems and processes so that our apprentices know exactly what’s expected of them, but that doesn’t mean it hinders their creative flair,” says Michael.
And Ten O’clock has just taken on their latest apprentice through Competenz, Marissa. Michael says the fact that Marissa had completed a pre-trade patisserie course helped her gain the job. “Another of our employees, Jenna, who won the 2012 Apprentice of the Year, had also completed a patisserie course before she started with us and we noticed that it really helped her to understand the basics of baking,” says Michael.
It’s hoped Marissa will be the next to follow in her team mates’ footsteps and enter the Apprentice of the Year competition. “I’ve encouraged her to enter because it’s a really great way to broaden her horizons and it’s a chance to network with others in the industry.”
So if you’re ever in Masterton, be sure to check out the work of the young and talented team at Ten O’clock Cookie Bakery, and we may yet see Marissa’s name in the news.