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ASB May 2013

“Choc-o-Block” Conference

ASB Conference May 2013The Australian Society of Baking (ASB) recently held the 81st Conference in Melbourne. The conference started off with an industry tour on the 30th April. A special thank you must go to the leading businesses that opened their doors to the industry.

Day 1

The tour started in South Yarra at Burch and Purchese, a leading patisserie run by Cath and Darren Purchese. Although the tour arrived slightly ahead of schedule; Cath was there to open the doors and welcome the visitors. Everything is handmade and the production area is in full view upon entering the store.

The whole operation is run solely by Cath and Darren and it seems to work with the utmost of ease and efficiency (although Cath said that wasn’t always the case).

She related the few minutes before opening the doors each day is often similar to a reality TV show where it is madness perfecting everything and putting on the last few finishing touches before the doors are open to the public. Darren has been a guest judge on Celebrity Chef. If you have never visited Burch and Purchese before, I would suggest it is a MUST visit on your next trip to Melbourne.

The tour’s next stop was to visit world renowned Chocolate School, Kirsten Tibball’s Savour Chocolate in Brunswick.

After a tour through the school Kirsten did a short presentation as the tour group devoured the chocolates that she had laid out for the group to sample.

A very humble Kirsten told the group that she was very lucky as she had managed to spend 18 months in Europe after winning the Junior Scholarship award now known as the Sydney J Packham Award working and being taught by some of the Masters of the Industry in Europe.

I would say the only luck Kirsten has had was the luck she has made herself with a lot of hard work, talent and passion in everything she takes on. Kirsten has won many international competitions and now judges on the international circuit. Not bad for a Mum of a 7 year old who is already making his mark in the industry.

It was as if the tour hadn’t received a big enough fix of sweetness and chocolates, then headed to Cacao Fine Chocolates to view the making of handmade chocolates and macaroons.

Tim Clark took us around the various stages in making his handmade chocolates, with plenty of samples on the way.

Tim explained that he believes their success is because they have not substituted quality of their product.

After being made very welcome at Cacao Fine Chocolates and sampling many of the delicious handmade chocolates, the group left Cacao with two lovely presentation boxes of chocolates which were used as lucky door prizes the next day.

The final stop for the day was Fresh Start Bakeries.

Fresh Start provides the McDonald’s outlets throughout Australia with the Buns and English Style toasting muffins.

The operation was spotlessly clean and everything seemed to operate with the utmost of ease. No questions were left unanswered and everyone was made to feel very welcome.

The ASB would like to thank the businesses that made our tour delegates feel so welcome and were keen to share their knowledge and experiences with the visiting group. I think everyone on the tour would agree it was a great success with plenty of variety between all the businesses.

Day 2

The main conference was held at the Bayview Eden in Melbourne. The day was jam packed with keynote speakers with two international presenters starting off the day.

Piet Sanders who is the Regional Director from Puratos of Eastern Europe and the Asia Region and based in Belgium presented a paper titled ‘Taste Beyond Imagination’.

Like many of the businesses on the previous day, one of Piet’s many words of wisdom was don’t substitute flavour, taste and quality in your product.

Piet did a very comprehensive coverage of the world trends and talked about some of the world leaders in the industry such as Eric Kayser who features in this edition of the magazine. Piet also spoke about the universal shortage of tradespeople and how some businesses had dealt with the shortage.

The next speakers were a dual act and gave an extremely interesting presentation on ‘Salt Reduction’.

Dinnie Jordan and Michelle Briggs travelled all the way from England to present to the ASB.

Dinnie and Michelle are from a company called Kudos in the UK. Their company has carried out extensive research into ways of reducing the salt intake in our diets, and although they haven’t found a solution to Bread Products they have developed an alternative for cake and pastry products.

Their research has found that by replacing the sodium with potassium this has reduced the effects a high sodium diet has on blood pressure.

Jake Lowing who is the Development Manager for Patties Pies in Victoria, had everyone intrigued with this presentation ‘Why I didn’t attend the last ASB Conference’. In fact Jake reported on ‘Innovation’ and his attendance at SIAL last October which was why he was unable to attend the ASB Conference.

Jake highlighted that the planning and organisation leading up to his visit to SIAL was a very important part of the success of his project.

Jake and his team researched who would be exhibiting, what stands they needed to visit and the outcomes of the trip.

Once they arrived they stuck to their plan and reviewed the outcomes each day over a cool thirst quenching beer and shoes off the aching feet for some, which Jake ensured he presented photos of his female travelling companion with her shoes off and feet up.

Almost 12 months to the day of Jake and his two travelling companions heading to SIAL, Patties will launch to the market a new range of products that have come about from Jake and his team’s findings at SIAL.

This would not have been possible if they didn’t prepare, research and plan their visit before leaving the shores of Australia and then reviewing their strategy each day to ensure they were on track.

The final presentation prior to lunch was Kirsten Tibballs and Gary Willis. Kirsten, as mentioned from the industry tour, has her own very successful world renowned chocolate school in Brunswick.

Gary Willis is the General Manager of Callebaut Chocolates in Australia. Now, who wouldn’t be interested in a presentation about chocolate?

Gary and Kirsten started off showing a short video of a Cocoa Plantation in Ghana that they had recently visited.

It basically covered paddock to plate or in this case plantation to plate. Gary then asked Kirsten a series of questions about the technical aspects of chocolate and its use in the patisserie industry.

Kirsten is happy to pass on all her knowledge and skills to others in the industry and even today is still keen to learn more.

Here is a person who is a master in her profession at a world class standard, but still believes she has more to learn.

Kirsten believes that choux pastry will soon be the latest craze in the patisserie industry in Australia. Both Kirsten and others believe that macaroons have reached their pinnacle.  Kirsten regularly travels the world looking for new trends to keep Australia up to date.

The afternoon session saw the return of Arthur Shelly who has his own company that specialises in human behaviour and planning in the workplace, who held another interactive session on zoo animals. Everyone was split into small groups or pairs and had to go through a deck of cards to decide which animals had the characteristics to be a negotiator for a company and what animals characteristics would be totally unsuitable.

There is no right or wrong answer-which became apparent when looking at the characteristics various groups have picked.

Whilst many groups had picked similar cards, some seemed to have selected totally opposing cards, but each had a view as to why they had selected them.

See Conference Presentation Here!


The final segment for the day was Michael McLean.

Michael also has his own business that assists companies with strategic planning. Michael gave a short presentation on the importance of having a documented plan, reviewing it and making slight adjustments where it is necessary.

Finally when the plan has been implanted, conducting a final review to see what worked and what didn’t. Michael then gave the audience some interactive tasks to carry out.

Each group was given some basic tools such as an egg, pins, drinking straws and marshmallows. They then had to drop the egg onto the floor from about 7 foot off the ground with the goal not to break the egg.

They were allowed to use the tools they had been given in any way they wanted to assist with the project. Whilst one group managed to carry out the task successfully, probably more by good luck than good management, another group managed to break their first egg in the first minute of the project and the 2nd attempt was also unsuccessful.

See Conference Presentations Here!


The day closed slightly behind schedule but nobody seemed to mind with such excellent, informative, fun and interactive presentations.

The final wrap up was an informal cocktail gathering where everyone got to mix and mingle, catch up with old friends and meet new acquaintances. An enjoyable closing to what turned out to be a successful conference.

The next ASB conference will commence with an industry tour on the 15th October, with the main conference and AGM being held on the 16th October at the Sydney Airport Mecure (just near the terminal of the Sydney International Airport).

This will be followed by the Chairman’s Dinner. The committee are still finalising the venue for the Chairman’s Dinner and will send out notifications in the coming weeks.

The Chairman’s Dinner will also see the announcement of the Australian National Scholarships regional finalists, plus the announcement of the national winners of both the Arthur E Dennison and Sydney J Packham Scholarships.


See Conference Presentations Here!



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