VIU Baking Students off to Europe for Industry Immersion

February 26, 2014 - 1:00am

Forty-five students and alumni from Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Professional Baking program who leave March 1 on a Study Abroad trip to Europe will be immersed in the old world traditions and new innovations of their chosen industry.

Highlights of the 16-day trip will include five days at the world’s largest professional baking and pastry making industry exposition, Europain, in Paris; two full days of workshops in the test kitchens of Puratos, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of professional baking ingredients, near Brussels; and a tour of the world’s largest chocolate factory, Callebaut, also in Brussels.

VIU Baking instructor Martin Barnett and a faculty team took the first group of Baking program students to Europe in 2012, and says he’s pleased there’s been even more support from industry partners in welcoming and educating VIU students during this year’s trip.

Students and alumni from the Baking program going back to 2004 will be exposed to the latest innovations in an industry that encompasses every corner of the globe, Barnett says.

“They’ll see that they are part of a worldwide industry, and have a chance to see the crème de la crème, the very best innovations in the industry.”

During their five days at Europain, the group will watch the world’s finest bakers compete in the World Baking Masters, and visit a trade show floor the size of multiple football fields to view cutting edge innovations in production techniques and commercial and industrial baking equipment, as well as the latest micro-ingredients used in the art of fine pastry making.

The group will begin their tour in Brussels, where they will be guests of Callebaut in a tour of their chocolate factory. After touring the elegant chocolate shops so famous in that city, they will again be the guests of a baking industry heavyweight, Puratos, a company headquartered near Brussels with outlets throughout the world. “They have really big test kitchens and will be hosting our whole team for two days of workshops,” Barnett says.

Another day of workshops will be hosted in the test kitchens of Lesaffre, a long-established yeast manufacturing company in Lille, France.

The Baking program’s Study Abroad experience gives students a different dimension on their chosen field, Barnett says. “In the 2012 trip they loved it because they understood they were connected to a worldwide fellowship of bakers.”

As part of the Professional Baking and Pastry Arts program at VIU, Barnett believes that students are exposed to elements of a university education that can open up possibilities for their future they might not have imagined.

“Study Abroad experiences like our visit to Europe provide deep connections, higher thinking, an opportunity to engage in discussion and research in this industry, and of course the chance to learn through travel,” Barnett says.

Baking students have spent hundreds of hours fundraising to defray trip expenses – baking and working at the Bite of Nanaimo and the Festival of Trees, and selling chocolates and baked goods to students and in the community.

Baking student Sheena Howdle, from Red Deer, Alberta, says she’s looking forward to meeting members of the Bread Bakers Guild of America at Europain, and writing an article for the guild’s newsletter, Bread Lines. Fellow student Krystal Dickinson, from Sooke, says she’s excited about sampling and working with Europe’s famously superior butter and cheese, and visiting old world bakeries in Belgium and France.



Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443 C: 250.618.1535 E: T: @viunews

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