Hilary Faul – A baking adventure

A sense of adventure led Hilary Faul from a career in sailing to one in baking. Born and raised in Invercargill, 24 year old Hilary is part way through a Baking apprenticeship at Gilbert’s Fine Food in Dunedin, a far cry from her years sailing in and around New Zealand.

“I just wasn’t satisfied enough by the sailing,” says Hilary. “I knew I needed something more creative. I had always loved baking at home and my friends and family loved the biscuits I made. Luckily the job at Gilbert’s came up just as I was thinking about making a change. They were generous enough to take me on without any experience.”

Hilary says she loves the hands-on process of making something, perfecting it, and seeing the finished product. “I get huge satisfaction out of giving people the finished product. Since I started baking at Gilbert’s I have such a sense of having achieved something, of improving my skills.”

Hilary loves making bread most. “Everyone loves bread and you can eat it every day,” she says. Working with two other bakers and two shop assistants, Hilary thrives on the fast pace of the work at Gilbert’s. “We’re always busy. We make so many different things that I’m never bored. And there’s always an opportunity to improve.”

She says the most challenging part of her job is the high stress times when there is a lot going on at once and time pressure to get it done. “I have to make sure I prioritise and don’t get overwhelmed.”

She says her main strength is in having a good eye for assessing a dough during the proofing process. “But I want to learn a lot more about sourdough breads and recipe formulation. I practice quite a bit at home to keep learning how to adjust to different scenarios.”

Hilary says preparing for the competition started with getting her presentation finished. For the theory exam she focused on what she didn’t know enough about, and says the BIRT Bake Info website was a great source of information.

Her take on the baking industry is that it’s changing quite quickly as people’s views on food change. “There’s a huge move towards understanding the environmental factors involved in food production. How do we make food that is sustainable but still profitable? People are starting to ask questions about the way their food is made, and there’s a definite revival of artisan baking.”

When Hilary isn’t baking she can be found out walking around the beautiful Dunedin hills, a pleasure after being indoors all day at the bakery.