Publish date: 27/06/2018

A North Canterbury baker will be the first New Zealander to represent the nation in an international baking competition in Russia next year.

Nineteen-year-old Neroli Lancaster, who is in her third year of her apprenticeship with Rangiora based Continental Catering Group, was awarded ‘Trainee of the Year’ in the Baking Industry Association of New Zealand (BIANZ) Awards in Auckland on Monday night.

Her prize includes entry into the biennial Worldskills 2019 competition in Kazan, Russia; the first time a New Zealand baker has been represented in the competition.

“I am really looking forward to representing New Zealand on the world stage,” said Neroli. “I am honoured to be awarded this opportunity.”

Neroli was selected as one of three nationwide finalists in the BIANZ competition in early June, after sending away samples of her bread and pastries for the regional heats. With only a few weeks to prepare for the live-baking finals, Neroli overcame “a few hurdles and not a lot of sleep or eating,” but says that “the stress has definitely paid off!” She credits the staff at Continental Catering for their constant support.

The team at Continental Catering Group say they are delighted that Neroli has won the award. “Her willing nature and evident determination has certainly paid off and the team cannot wait to see what the future holds for the young baker.”

Continental Catering has a background in award-winning baking, having won silver in the BIANZ Great Hot Cross Bun competition in April 2018 and gold for best Ciabatta.