Young bakers rise to the challenge

New World supermarket bakers Sean Jackson (left) and Michael Murphy finish a day's work before heading to Auckland to compete in the final of the 2013 New Zealand Young Bread Baker of the Year competition. Photo by Peter McIntosh.Apart from the smell of freshly baked bread, starting work at 3am every day has few upsides.

But for Dunedin bakers Sean Jackson and Michael Murphy, their hard work has just paid off.

The duo are two of four bakers nationwide who have reached the final of the 2013 New Zealand Young Bread Baker of the Year competition and are in Auckland today competing for a research grant worth up to $10,000 for overseas travel to look at new technology, ingredients, processes or trends in products.

They are also competing for a place to represent New Zealand at the LA Judge Awards for apprentices in Sydney.

Mr Jackson (27), a baker at New World Centre City, and Mr Murphy (24), a baker at New World Gardens, both believe they have what it takes.

Mr Jackson said he was surprised and ''stoked'' to make the final.

The former chef applied for a job at the supermarket bakery after the restaurant he worked at reduced his hours.

''At the time, my wife was pregnant and I needed a job. Luck was on my side ... I got a job dishing out the cupcakes front of house.''

Soon after, he began full time work as a baker and has recently finished his apprenticeship.

''It's good to be recognised for something that I've fallen in love with.

''My initial ambition was to become an award-winning chef, but this is an even better career.

''This makes all the 3am starts worthwhile.''

Mr Murphy started his career at age 16, stacking supermarket shelves, and when a job opened up in the bakery for one day a week, he took it out of curiosity.

''I've now been baking for more than six years and my job has turned into my career.

''I don't know what's special about my bread. People like it - it always sells.''

He hoped it would see him through to the prizegiving.

The award will be presented by the New Zealand Association of Bakers at a ceremony in Auckland tomorrow.

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