Lessons learned at All About Baking
by Joanie Spencer
It’s not true that everything you needed to know you learned in kindergarten, and that’s especially true about the baking industry.
In fact, to get a solid understanding of fundamentals of baking, AIB International offers its All About Baking class twice a year. The purpose is to receive a broad overview of the principles of baking while gaining hands-on experience inside the bakery lab. It’s designed specifically for members of the baking industry who are not bakers themselves, such as salespeople, business development managers, R&D workers and tech support.
Baking & Snack managing editor Joanie Spencer, who spent four years covering the retail baking world for bake, a sister publication, attended the weeklong class in Manhattan, KS.
In our exclusive report, Ms. Spencer offers tips how to get the most out of this course.
Pair yourself with a food scientist. Or if you are a food scientist, pair yourself with a business developer or sales representative. Each has a different perspective on the industry, and both sides of the brain are better than one. After all, baking truly is both a science and an art.
Take notes. There’s a test. The first half of each day of this five-day course is spent in the classroom learning theory and fundamentals of baking. The afternoon is spent inside the lab, hands in dough and flour in the air. Take it all in — and take notes. The test isn’t a big deal, but a binder chock-full of notes and information will ensure that you bring everything you learned home with you — not just the delicious pastries you make.
Listen to your teachers. Of course, they offer a wealth of information. These are the hard-hitters of the industry, and they travel the world educating in classes, seminars, trade shows and even private companies. And if you pay attention, you will see they are also extremely friendly people with great senses of humor.
Get to know everyone who works in the lab. When working in the lab, your class will not be the only people in the room. Watch and learn from those around you. Just remember that they are there to work as well, so give them respect.
Learn from those before you. When you walk into AIB International, notice the plaques that line the hall. These are the legendary Baking Hall of Fame inductees who were instrumental in building the industry. Take note of their names, companies and contributions to the industry. Then take a moment to envision your name on the wall.
Visit the library. If the AIB lab feeds your senses, the library will feed your mind. Anything you ever wanted to know about baking has been documented in the AIB library. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, the librarians are fast to offer help.
Put yourself in a baker’s shoes. The plant floor is the beating heart of a bakery — so consider yourself part of the circulatory system, no matter what your role in the industry. Take time to put yourself in the bakers’ shoes, fully dusted with flour, and enjoy the experience. Eventually, you find that you have flour in your veins.
For more on AIB’s courses, visit www.aibonline.org.