Sweet taste of success for Harpenden teen pastry chef

Stephen Smith of Harpenden won a Medallion for Excellence at WorldSkills Leipzig 2013

Stephen Smith of Harpenden won a Medallion for Excellence at WorldSkills Leipzig 2013 - Credit: Photo supplied

A SWEET-wise Harpenden teenager has shown that he does not crumble under pressure after winning a medallion for excellence at the largest international skills contest in the world.

Confectioner Stephen Smith, 18, impressed judges during WorldSkills Leipzig 2013 from July 2-7, in Germany after beating off tough competition from all over the world.

The pastry chef, a former St George’s School pupil, was invited to join other apprentices and employees, all aged between 18 and 25, to represent the United Kingdom after a tough selection process.

PR manager for the National Apprenticeship Service, Kate Moloughney, said that Stephen had been talent-spotted while studying at Westminster Kingsway College.

She explained: “Stephen was representing the UK in confectionery because he is very good with it, is able to display a range of skills and has the ability to keep calm under pressure in an intensive competition.”

The event is held every two years in cities around the globe and the competition sees around 1,000 young people compete for medals in more than 40 different skills including electrical installation, welding, cooking and landscape gardening.

Team UK won a total of six medals and 17 medallions for excellence at the WorldSkills contest.

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Afterwards, Stephen told the Herts Advertiser: “I feel absolutely shattered. But I’m really, really happy.”

Competing against 15 other young confectioners from around the world he was judged on seven modules and his work included making intricate marzipan figurines of a fox, an owl and a mouse.

Judges looked at hygiene, texture, taste, creativity and variety.

The teenager said he enjoyed working with confectionery as it is “more creative and artistic than normal cooking”.

Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated the UK team, saying: “British ambition and ingenuity has once again taken on and beaten the best in the world.”

The PM said that the Government supported ambitious young people such as Stephen, “who want to work hard”.