British Army hosts Great Apprenticeship Bake-Off

The British Army have been providing both culinary expertise and state-of-the-art facilities at their catering training centre at Worthy Down, Winchester all as part of a unique Bake-Off event taking place during National Apprenticeship week (NAW) 2022.

Some of the brightest apprentice talent from across the south, picked from the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network (AAN) all hoping that they could stand the heat when they entered these tri-service kitchens for this special Army sponsored competition. 

Elizabeth Flegg, Chair of the South East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network said: “It is great to have the Army involvement, not only mentoring the competitors but allowing our apprentices to use these fabulous military training kitchens and cooking facilities.” 

Having these apprentices visit us here is a really good opportunity to show them the facilities and see what Army apprentices go through and how we develop them. WO1 Simon McCullock
Apprenticeship Warrant Officer Food Services Training Wing

Being a leader in the National Apprenticeship Scheme (NAS), the Army was keen to support the initiative organised by the Apprenticeships Ambassador Network. The event forms part of a week-long programme of activities to celebrate apprenticeships and demonstrate the many benefits they provide for individuals and businesses of all sizes.

WO1 Simon McCulloch, Apprenticeship Warrant Officer at the Food Services Training Wing (FSTW), Worthy Down: “Having these apprentices visit us here is a really good opportunity to show them the facilities and see what Army apprentices go through and how we develop them.”

With a similar event for the North taking place at 167 Regt RLC, Grantham, Lincolnshire, six teams of two, all of them civilians with no previous catering or cookery training took part in a 2½ hr baking competition culminating with two final bakes. One was the showcase piece and the other something that had to include a military theme. The aim of the showcase was to demonstrate baking skills and the military bake to reinforce the theme that a soldier must be a healthy eater whilst also considering the jobs that they are likely to undertake.

Major George Strydom, Officer Commanding Food Services Training Squadron (Land) FSTW: “We’re always keen on community engagement events like this and having our own apprenticeship schemes here we thought it a great opportunity to assist the wider apprenticeships scheme by having apprentices come here to use or facilities for the bake-off and see first-hand the equipment on offer to military apprentices.”  

...we thought it a great opportunity to assist the wider apprenticeships scheme by having apprentices come here to use or facilities for the bake-off and see first-hand the equipment on offer to military apprentices. Major George Strydom
Officer Commanding Food Services Training wing

The Bake-Off turned out to be a tasty event with the standard of cooking reaching professional standards. Colourful sponge cakes, inspired military themed cupcakes, pasties and pies all coming out of the ovens hoping their team would be taking home the award of ‘National Apprenticeship Ambassador Network Bake-Off Winner 2022.

After much deliberation and much tasting, it was Mia Meades and Carys Colborne, the team from Frimley NHS Hospital Trust, Surrey who were announced as the competition’s winners. It was their ‘A’ for Apprentice cake and chocolate cookies with big mug of tea for the soldiers that won the judges over in what was a very close-run event with much culinary talent on show. 

One of those tasked with judging the event was WO2 John Oliver, Sergeant Major at the FSTW. He was amazed at the standard of the bakes being produced: “We got told that these apprentices didn’t have much experience but what they have produced here today is nothing short of amazing. Hopefully, seeing these facilities and what we do may have enticed a few people to consider a career with us as Chef in the military is still a great career.”