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Culinary passion leads to successful career change

Nicholas Roberts, patisserie student at The GordonSince deciding to leave a secure, full-time job and return to study to follow his passion to become a patissier, Nicholas Roberts journey has been full of opportunity, accomplishments, and triumphs. 

 "After several years working in government and communications, I was looking to take a break and try something different that I was also passionate about. I had been making cakes and desserts for family and work celebrations since I was a kid. While it was for fun, it led me to study the Certificate III in Patisserie at The Gordon," said Nick.

The 12-month full-time course is led by some of the best pastry chefs in the business. It focuses on the fundamentals of preparing and producing various yeast goods, pastries and modern bakery products, alongside marzipan work, petit fours, classic gateaux, tortes and cakes, and the art of sugar work.

"Going into the course, I felt I had a good set of amateur cake-baking skills to build on, and I have certainly been able to expand upon these, as well as gain experience with other areas, such as bread, laminated pastries, sugar work, and advanced gateaux and entremets," said Nick.

"Looking back at my baked creations before I started the course, I can see a huge change in look, complexity, and flavour. The patisserie course didn't just teach me new skills, but also gave me the ability to push myself to come up with new ideas and approaches to favourite home recipes and to create a truly original petit-gateau recipe," continued Nick.
Renowned culinary teacher Brendan Hill said, "Nicholas is the model student you love to have in your class. Nicholas has a great attitude to learning, is always professional and passionate in his approach to all practical and knowledge-based tasks, and tries his utmost to achieve and master all of the skills involved in the patisserie program."
Investing much of his time in self-directed learning and additional research, it is no surprise that Nick has been nominated to represent The Gordon at the Victorian Training Awards as the Vocational Student of the Year.
"It means a lot to be named one of three finalists for Vocational Student of the Year. I'm really grateful that this nomination has given me the opportunity and platform to share my training journey with others. The training I undertook at The Gordon has given me so much, and this is a great opportunity for me to give back by singing its and the sector's praises and, hopefully, encourage others to pursue their passions through the TAFE sector, even if it means making a big career change as I have done," said Nick.

Since completing his course, Nick has worked tirelessly to establish his business Zuckerhaus Cakes. This home-based business will begin as a part-time venture, with cakes made to order online for delivery within the Greater Geelong region. 

"While baking has always been a passion of mine, it was through studying German in school and subsequent trips to Germany and Austria that I fell in love with central European cakes and patisserie. It's this influence which guides Zuckerhaus Cakes' offering of a range of whole cakes and petit gateaux, perfect for celebratory occasions or even just a morning tea get-together," said Nick.

"The training at The Gordon gave me the confidence that I have what it takes to make cakes commercially, and I now feel prepared to tackle running my own cake business," continued Nick.

From Nick's personal favourite, the classic Austrian Sachertorte, and Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Cake), to more local favourites such as Passionfruit Sponge, Zuckerhaus Cakes is a combination of traditional European approaches and more modern Australian appetites.

Check out Zuckerhaus Cakes on Facebook and Instagram.