Tiggy Elwes: "Baking is science plus creativity"
“Don’t forget to have a good time. Remember, this is really, really fun!”
Tiggy Elwes is in the third year of the National Bakery School’s BSc Baking Science and Technology course, specialising in New Product Development. She is the winner of Frank Brake Charitable Trust Prize for the Best Student in Bakery Science Technology (Level 5 Foundation, 1st Prize)
Baking is science plus creativity. I love that about it. I actually started out at art school but after my foundation year I really felt very unmotivated and like I had lost my love for art. However when I found bakery, I realised it was a new avenue to channel my creative energy, opening up an array of opportunities.
The first time I visited the National Bakery School, I felt like I’d come home. I was at a loose end after art school, feeling unsure about what I should do next. I’ve always loved baking, and my godmother – who works in the food industry – told me about the Bakery School open day. I was in London so I thought I’d go and have a look. I ended up staying for about six hours! By the end of the day I knew it was the place for me.
The knowledge you’re gaining gives you a solid basis for exploration. I love learning the science and theory behind baking. Understanding the principles means you can work out why things go wrong, and it also allows you up to independently experiment and have fun.
My other love is food styling and photography. I’ve taken over the running of the Bakery School’s Instagram account (@nationalbakeryschool) and we’ve had a big influx of new followers which is really exciting. I’ve got my own account too (@tiggysmacarons), which I’m using to explore and experiment and work out my own style as well as to sell some of my products including hand-painted macarons. I’m never happier than when I’ve baked something and then spend a couple of hours figuring out how to take beautiful pictures of it.
I definitely feel like I’ve grown up during my time at LSBU. I was such a novice when I started! I’ve gained so much knowledge, and confidence too! Claridge’s Hotel started following me on Instagram so I got in touch with them to ask if I could do some work experience there. Incredibly, they said yes. I spent two weeks working there as a pastry chef which was a dream come true.
The course is 100% equipping us for the big world after uni. Obviously COVID-19 has limited things to an extent but we’ve still had loads of opportunities to do extra-curricular things where we get to meet industry experts and see behind the scenes at bakeries. We went to the City Food Lecture too; an invitation-only event that we’d never have got to go to if we hadn’t been students here.
Getting a prize does make you think, I must be doing something right. It definitely gave me a confidence boost. It does make you feel like you could actually be part of this industry and make a significant contribution. I’m planning to put my prize money towards another course – maybe in digital marketing or food styling. I hope doing something like that will give me that bit extra that will appeal to future employers.
My advice to anyone coming to study here would be to just get stuck in. Listen to your lecturers and trust what they’re telling you. Even if you think you already know how to do something, you’ve got to let that go. I just tried to strip everything back and learn from the bottom up again. That’s how you develop a real understanding of the processes and techniques. And don't forget to have a good time. Remember, this is really, really fun!