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Apprentice baker takes the cake

Vaomaolo Faletoese has won TAFE Queensland's Bakery Apprentice of the Year Award for his outstanding efforts during his three-year apprenticeship.

Growing up in Fiji, Vaomaolo developed his love for baking while cooking with his family during family events.

"I grew up around my aunties and uncles, and whenever our family got together, there would be a lot of cooking or baking, and I loved it," explained Vaomaolo.

"I knew I wanted to study it and see how I could go. Seeing when the product comes out of the oven, how good it looks, and then tasting it and seeing people love it makes my life better."

After migrating to Australia, Vaomaolo wanted to make baking his career. He began working at Spoon Wholesale Kitchen in Brisbane, bringing him to TAFE Queensland to study the Certificate III in Baking (FBP30517) as an apprentice baker.

"Meeting bakers with the same passion and learning from their wisdom is great. They've pushed me through, and the practical tips they give me makes me love it even more. I wouldn't be here without them," he said

Now working at Flour & Chocolate's Northgate commercial kitchen, Vaomaolo bakes for three stores Brisbane-wide, where he's decorated and baked cakes. Vaomaolo was recently appointed to make their signature croissants, responsible for creating over 100 croissants of varying flavours daily.

"I aspire to be an expert baker. I know I still have a lot to learn, so I plan to travel and work in France to see and learn how they make the products they make," said Vaomaolo.

Winning the Apprentice Baker of the Year Award, students are assessed on their attitude, ability and the quality of their assessments and baked products. According to his teacher, Vaomaolo displayed these qualities in abundance.

"Vaomaolo was enthusiastic and hard-working. His understanding of producing savoury bread, sweet yeast products, specialty flour bread and basic artisan products set him apart from the other outstanding students. On top of that, he has superior technical skills and a positive attitude that sets him apart," said Michael Wheeler, Educational Team Leader, TAFE Queensland.

During his visits to the bakery at Flour & Chocolate, Michael saw Vaomaolo implementing his TAFE Queensland training first-hand into his role. He wouldn't be surprised if he becomes an expert baker in the next decade.

TAFE Queensland prides itself on its industry partnerships with independent bakers like Flour & Chocolate. These connections are vital in ensuring students achieve their career goals.

Partnerships offer students access to unique, work-integrated learning, leading to successful job outcomes, which Vaomaolo has already achieved.

"He's a worthy recipient of TAFE Queensland's Bakery Apprentice of the Year Award, and it's great that he's using his skills to work with an employer who supports him," continues Michael.

"We have every confidence that Vaomaolo will become an expert baker. With this industry-recognised award win, combined with his skills and attitude, we know that he has a very bright future ahead of him," he concluded.