The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

NECTA Competition, April 12th and 13th 2011

ananda's picture

NECTA Competition, April 12th and 13th 2011


NECTA Competition, April 12th and 13th 2011


The North East Culinary Trades Association hold this competition in a local venue every year, and the College has always played a full part in it.

The first day is largely student-focused, with the main theatre centring on live work in "pods" by students from various colleges, cheered on enthusiastically by a large audience there to enjoy the spectacle.   Additionally, a range of "static" displays are also put up, in various categories as part of the overall competition.

I mentored one student in the live class to assemble a "Decorated Gateau", and a school student who made a plate of scones which were displayed for "Afternoon Tea" as part of the static display.

For the scones, I contacted an expert in baking powders and chemical leaveners, who I first visited as a student working on a raw materials assignment for my BTEC in Baking Technology.   A few tweaks to the recipe, and a decision to use dates and pecan nuts as flavour, and we were sorted.   A bit of practice in the 2 weeks leading up to the Competition, and my scholar came and made his scones early on the day, so we could take them and display them absolutely fresh.   First prize achieved here.

In the live class, I had selected a Level 1 student to enter this category.   She actually already does her own cake decorating from home.   Her business is only just getting off the ground, but clearly she just has natural spades.   She did most of her work for the Competition at home, with me acting as adviser through text message and e-mail and phone.   Try as I might, I could not get her to feel nervous about the whole experience.   Veera is so laid back; but it finally hit her when she arrived at the venue at the Civic Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne, to find I was still back at base waiting to drive over last minute with the scones.

Anyway, a decorated gateau is quite different to the expert sugarcraft work Veera normally surrounds herself with.   This is the design she came up with; devastatingly simple in appearance, but obvious complexity and skill in execution.   She deservedly won the gold medal and took the trophy in this category.


A teaching colleague also entered the Live Easter Cake, and took a third place up against experts from the local Sugarcraft Guild.

As for our College; we took 12 first places overall.   This is more than we have ever achieved.   Overall, we won the Live Classes and came 2nd in the Static displays, and took top spot for the coveted "Overall Best College" prize.

In spite of all the difficulties in our professional world right now, all the lecturers were on a high for the rest of the week, and we could break up for Easter feeling really good about what we do.   The main kudos, however, goes to our students.   What a set of stars they are!

Best wishes



davidg618's picture


I follow your postings with discipline. I became an anglophile in the 1980's when I first visited England and Wales--half of my ancestry--while doing a chore for the Royal Navy. England pubs taught me about good beer, and you, and your students, provide insight into good (and real) bread.

It delights me to see young people, anywhere, find joy in what they do.

Your work, a teacher, is high calling.

David G

Daisy_A's picture

Way to go Andy, Veera and Scone Scholar! Way to go students, staff and college!

So many individual excellent entries and 'Best College' too. That's great news in difficult times.

What well deserved recognition of all your work and skills. Veera's cake looks fantastic - so vibrant in colour.

You must all be very proud.

Very best wishes, Daisy_A

dmsnyder's picture

Veera's gateau is purely stunning!

Thanks for sharing.


Yerffej's picture


Thanks for the photos and the report.  It is such a joy to see work of this caliber performed.  Nice job on your part too.


Syd's picture

Congratulations, Andy!  You must be very proud of your students.  The best reward a teacher can ever get is to see their student's succeed. :)

all the best,


ananda's picture

To David, Daisy_A, David, Jeff and Syd.

Thank you all for your kind words

Best wishes


breadsong's picture

Hello Andy,
Congratulations to you, and to your students, for the success enjoyed at your competition.
Veera's cake is so beautiful and her talent shines through: even, level cakes, application of frosting (ganache?) and careful piping, and a lovely selection of colorful roses - a delightful contrast to the cake's color.
What a presentation!
from breadsong


ananda's picture

Hi Breadsong,

Thank you very much for your kind words about my students.

Yes, Veera is very talented, although her real expertise is in sugarcraft, as evidenced by the flowers.   The cake is coated with a very dark chocolate buttercream, which is given texture by using a comb.   Sandwiching 2 large cakes together creates the very modern trend for a tall cake.   The bright orange icing she piped on as dots creates a great contrast.   But, yes, it's the roses which really make it stand out so much!

Thank you again


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Wow!  Twelve firsts and GOLD!

Veera's smile says it all!  What an accomplishment!  

ananda's picture

Hi Mini,

This is the one event which is given full attention by everybody in our Section in College.   There is an underlying, if not overt, expectation that we simply have to be the best College on the day.   It's a very unusual situation for me.   I'm not a naturally competitive type.   But I do expect to give of my best and to try very hard.

I'm still gathering the confidence to just believe that our students' and staff expertise are sufficient to "carry the day".   There is a lot more to it than that, especially when we get into the politics of the competition.   But, the truth is that the taking part is what really brings the reward, whatever: Veera's smile does indeed give that idea total credence.

Very good to hear from you