About Name SurnameMuch has changed in the Bakery business since Ron Smith started his apprenticeship as a baker in Carrum in 1961. When he came to William Angliss it was his first year as an apprentice. He explains that you came in blocks of two-week duration three times a year. His apprenticeship was for five years: four years of schooling “and then you had to get your qualification as a dough maker at your place of employment and then you qualified as a baker.”
Ron says that the industry has changed dramatically since he started out. In 1961 a baker could only deliver in a thirty-mile circumference of the bakery. Each bakery had its own bread carters to deliver the bread five days a week. On Monday Wednesday and Friday the bread was delivered to country areas with the post. It had to be ready by 5.00 am every morning. The ‘doughs’ had to be fermented and this could take between one and twelve hours so the dough maker would start their shift during the day and the bread makers came on in the evening and worked through the night. Ron says of the bakery trade now and then:
People are discovering artisan bread – but that was normal for us! The best time to be working as a baker, as far as skill was concerned, was in the 60s when I started. It is very different now. The quality is different. Today’s quality is very good – it is square, white, keeps well and it is very good bread. But it doesn’t have the flavour and texture and aroma of old bread. The trade is magnificent now and today’s students are well educated and they want to learn. They are young vibrant and they have exciting ideas for different flavours and presentations – it is a terrific industry.
Ron stayed with the small baker for 18 months then left to get experience in high volume bread baking. He worked for several large bakeries before leaving to work for William Angliss as a bakery teacher. This was at a time when small bakeries were disappearing and large bakeries and franchises were moving in to the business. Ron had valuable skills to pass on.
He left teaching and bought a bakery in Alexandria, a country town out of Melbourne. After building this business he sold and moved back to Melbourne. Not long after he bought three bakeries in Eltham, Hurstbridge and Diamond Creek but sold them to Brumby’s and Baker’s Delight. Once again without a bakery Ron was lured back to William Angliss and sessional teaching. This turned into fulltime teaching and eventually running the Patisserie department.
William Angliss was a terrific place to come to school – we had a great time and I still stay in touch with some of the people I studied with. William Angliss was small then and it was like a family – we all knew each other.
Summary of the Interview
Interviewer: Jill Adams
Interviewee: Ron Smith
Date of Interview: 30 November 2010
Recording Format: MP3
||Student life at William Angliss
||Apprenticeship; block release; dough maker; baking; qualification; 1961; 1965; graduated;
|Bread & Baking Process
||Dough making; trade; fermentation; artisan bread; hot bread shops; yeast activators; baking process; popular breads; 1960s; High tin, Devon loaf, oyster loaves; Carrum; horse & cart deliveries; Frankston; mail cart; Patterson Lakes; Dandenong; roadside meter boxes; bread carters; shops; Nepean highway; railway station; flour; bakers; barn; delivery; cakes; pies; pastries;
||Training at WAI
||Dough; baking; timed dough; academic studies; maths; food science; business studies; scotch oven; wood fired ovens
||Early Career Reflections
||Bonbeach, Christmas; Carrum; Frankston; Chelsea; Connors and Crow; Tip Top Bakeries; Sunicrust Bakeries; American Batter mix; Home Pride; production manager;
||Bakery& Bread Industry Changes
||Victoria; Heathcote; Ballarat; 30 mile limit; Bendigo; Echuca; Tyabb; Phillip Island; foil; late-bake bread; weekend bread; sliced; gimmick; trucks; franchise; home delivery; Bolte; Hades Hot Bread; Golden Top; Baker’s Delight; Brumby’s; Fergussen Plarre;
||Reflection on the Bread Industry & Bakeries
||1960s; skills; bread; gassed up; quality; cakes; pastries; presentation; industry; trade; colourings; preservatives; European & Asian influences
||Awards/Recognition at WAI
||Dux; bakery school; engraved silver tray;
||Career & Teaching at WAI
||Teaching at WAI; Keith Stewart; franchise; Alexandria; Melbourne crèche; Bell Street; freeway; catering; Flemington Racecourse; Diamond Creek; Eltham; Hurstbridge; Baker’s Delight; Brumby’s; sessional teaching; patisserie; China;
||WAI Career Highlights
||Patisserie; chocolate; cakes; decorating cakes; profit; spring; texture; taste
||Reflections on WAI
||Retiring; Wayne Crosbie; Ray Way; Gary Dicts; Bakery; butchery; hospitality; pastry; business;