Nearly 150 employees from 29 Booths stores in the North West have been digging out their mixing bowls and spoons and vying against their colleagues in ‘The Great Booths Bake Off’ to be in with a chance of supplying the shelves of their own workplace.
The company-wide search for the best baker in Booths has been underway for two months, and at a grand final, Elizabeth Harper (licensed specialist, Ripon Booths) was crowned The Great Booths Bake-Off Champion with her delicious sticky toffee buns which will hit the shelves of all Booths stores for Christmas.
The Great Booths Bake-Off initiative came about as part of Booths Leadership Development Programme. HR manager Jacq Lunardi says, “We wanted to develop an idea that would engage all employees within Booths. Our staff are at the heart of our business, and it comes as no surprise we’ve turned up some pretty amazing bakers at Booths. The activity helps connect staff from all areas of the business to understand how products are produced, recipes refined and the requirements of scaling up recipes to get them on the shelves.”
The gruelling grand final, which was held recently at Lucy Cooks in Staveley, saw the six finalists going head to head, feverishly whisking and baking for two hours before presenting their wares to a panel of judges for tasting, led by chairman of Booths Edwin Booth, and including members of the retailer’s buying team.
The six grand finalists were awarded from five regional heats, which saw representation from Booths buying team: John Gill, Abby Talbot and Emily Burr tirelessly taste their way around 29 cakes, cookies, biscuits and tarts over two days. The regional entries ranged from lemon drizzle cake influenced by travels to Italy, a Maid’s of Honour recipe handed down through generations, and an innovative chewy chocolate cookie with a creamy peanut butter centre.
The finalists and their masterpieces judged in the grand final were:
- Rustic Lemon Drizzle Sandwich – Karen Ashmore (grocery supervisor, Kendal Booths)
- Conversation Cake – Janet Duquesne (customer service supervisor, Lytham Booths)
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies – Janine Holmes (ambient manager, Scotforth Booths)
- Bran Loaf – Pat Bilotta (tea shop manager, Knutsford Booths)
- Sticky Toffee Buns – Elizabeth Harper (licensed specialist, Ripon Booths)
- Ginger and Cranberry Tiffin – Stephanie Chamley (purchase ledger analyst, central office)