Stirling pupil reaches national baking competition final

MASTER CHEF: Mia van Staden will be participating in the National Tourism Careers Expo baking competition from September 29-31. Pictures: SUPPLIED

Stirling High School grade 11 pupil Mia van Staden is heading off to the national round of the National Tourism Careers Expo baking competition from September 29-31 after placing first at the district and regional rounds held during August.

Hosted by the department of tourism, the Culture Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education Training Authority (CATHSSETA) and the Gauteng department of economic development, the expo has been held annually since 2008 and is aimed at grades 9-12 pupils, TVET and university students and unemployed graduates.

The expo is a three-day showcase of the diverse careers and opportunities in tourism.

Part of the expo includes competitions for pupils and students in culinary arts, mixology, conservation and hospitality among others.

Van Staden entered the category for pupils in consumer studies and each round requires participants to bake a three-layer vanilla madeira cake in four hours and 30 minutes, which then has to be iced and decorated according to the theme ‘Save our Earth’. All the decorations must be edible.

Two grade 11 pupils entered from schools in the district. They were scored according to a rubric based on taste, creativity, presentation and aptitude.

Van Staden attributed her excellent scores to her capacity to stay organised in stressful and overwhelming situations.

Van Staden’s love of baking that started when a family friend, Roger Tutt, noticed her aptitude at the age of 11 and opted to mentor and guide her.

She said she is also inspired by the TV show, Cake Boss and hopes one day to have a successful and internationally respected career with her own pastry business.

Van Staden said: “I love being able to play with the flavours and designs of desserts and confectioneries. Someone’s reaction towards what you have made is definitely rewarding.

“I never thought that I would be first place in both the district and provincial rounds of the competition and these wins truly mean a lot to me.

“At nationals, I am hoping to secure a place in the top three, but my ultimate goal is to know that I gave it my best, regardless of the final outcome.”

Van Staden’s mother, Cheri expressed her pride and support for Mia’s culinary ambitions saying: “Mia has always loved exploring in the kitchen from a young age. When she decided to start her own business at the age of 14, I realised that she was really passionate and dedicated.

“She has been competing against the best pupils in the province and has triumphed, so I am sure we will have the same outcome at nationals.

“We are grateful for the opportunity that has been presented to her.

“We really hope that Mia will be able to further her studies as a pastry chef and eventually open her own business to live out her passion.”

Stirling High School said Van Staden’s achievement was a testament to her talent, dedication, and love for the art of baking. As she faces the ultimate challenge in the national finals, the school said van Staden’s story serves as an inspiration to aspiring bakers and a reminder that with passion and hard work, dreams can be achieved.

Van Staden’s consumer studies teacher, Corlia van Heerden said: “As a teacher, it is always rewarding to see your pupils excel in something that they love.

“Consumer studies prepares pupils to acquire the knowledge, skills, values and attitude to produce and market products of high quality to satisfy consumer needs. Mia’s achievement is proof that Stirling’s consumer studies department has achieved this goal.

“Consumer studies is an important subject which aims to develop independent, creative entrepreneurial thinking.

“Mia has always been entrepreneurially minded. She has been baking cakes and cupcakes to order for several years. It is amazing for her to receive this recognition.

“Her passion for baking is evident in her practical tasks. She shows initiative and creativity in her schoolwork. I am very proud of Mia’s achievement.”


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