Her love of baking with her family was sparked at an early age, and she knew she was destined to work in the industry. Her passion for pastry only grew stronger when she received a Junior Master Chef kit at 12 years old which inspired even more kitchen experiments.
“I knew I was going to be a baker and when my high school career counsellor introduced me to TAFE at School, I quickly enrolled to study the Certificate II in Baking (FBP20217). I was so excited to be studying the thing I love while still in high school,” explained Kaelah.
The TAFE at School course saw Kaelah visit TAFE Queensland’s South Bank campus one day each week for 12 months where she learnt about baking under the guidance of baking professionals in the campus' industry-standard kitchens.
“Before I started, mum and I toured the facilities and we were amazed at how big the kitchens, ovens and equipment was. When I did start, I got to study with classmates just as passionate as me and learn new kitchen skills — it was amazing,” she said.
Her skills and attitude were recognised by her teachers, who nominated her for the inaugural TAFE at School Graduate of the Year, which she won — capping off an amazing year of training.
“Kaelah is a quiet achiever with high standards and a fantastic attitude who learns quickly while producing quality baked products,” said Michael Wheeler, Educational Team Leader, Bakery and Patisserie, TAFE Queensland.
“She has excellent organisation skills and is very personable and encouraging. When she came to us she had a passion for baking and has worked extremely hard to turn it into a profession, having gained an apprenticeship since finishing with us.”
“She’s an absolute star and a wonderful ambassador for everything the TAFE at School program stands for,” said Michael.
Her skills were built thanks to the quality of her teachers who taught and encouraged her to bring amazing creations to life through hands-on training.
And those skills came to the fore when she created a croquembouche consisting of piling profiteroles into a cone and then bound with threads of caramel.
“I surprised myself when I built the sugar nest, filled the profiteroles and built the cone because it brought all the skills I learnt out and I realised that I could do this, it was highlight of my studies!” continued Kaelah.
Through her practical training Kaelah was able to bring recipes to life in the kitchen and particularly loved baking cakes and topping them with her own unique icing designs.
“My teachers would explain baking theory to us, then show us how the theory comes to life in the kitchen, while explaining the various techniques they were using at each step of the recipe,” continued Kaelah.
“Then when it was our turn to create the recipe at each of our baking stations, our teachers would visit each of us and help us individually.”
At the end of her course, Kaelah’s teachers referred her to the Bakers Delight Loganholme store for an apprenticeship. After meeting the owner, she was quickly offered the job and began working full time as a baker soon after finishing high school.
“I was ecstatic to get a job doing what I love in the industry I’ve always wanted to be in. I was anxious on my first day, but the team made me feel welcome and it feels great to do something I love.”
Three days per week Kaelah is responsible for baking products for the store, starting at 4:30am and ensuring the store has the buns, twists, rolls and savoury bites to sell from opening time. The other two days she’s prepping dough and other ingredients for the following day.
“Working alongside experienced bakers in the kitchen and baking each day doesn’t feel like work to me. My team makes each day a lot of fun and I haven’t had a bad day yet!”
Kaelah still bakes desserts for her family, keeping her pastry skills sharp as she hopes to one day own her own specialty cake bakery, after she’s finished her apprenticeship.
“I feel confident that I’m on the right pathway to achieve my professional goals. I’ll keep working hard at Bakers Delight, keep learning during my three year apprenticeship with TAFE Queensland, and eventually I’ll get to where I want to,” concluded Kaelah.