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People's Choice Awards 2020

Category: Apprentice of the Year

Joshua Nickl

Joshua NicklQualification: Certificate III in Retail Baking (Combined)
Trained by: Canberra Institute of Technology
Employed by: The Gumnut Patisserie Pty Ltd

“Pastry is my life. I literally grew up in the kitchen of my parent’s patisserie. My parents are two of Australia’s best pastry chefs so it’s no surprise I’m driven to follow in their footsteps and be as good, if not better, than them.”

Gumnut Patisserie’s motto is “Life’s short, eat dessert first” and if the weekend queues at their Southern Highlands bakeries are anything to go by, it’s a motto locals swear by.

Since beginning his apprenticeship, Joshua has been fortunate to work with some of the industry’s best pastry chefs.

“Many pastry chefs who’ve trained at Gumnut have become renowned and gone on to achieve amazing things,” says Joshua. “Getting the opportunity to work with some of these people has been a privilege.”

Within months of beginning his apprenticeship, Joshua was taking charge of the team and encouraging younger and senior staff alike to work in more effective ways.

Joshua NicklJoshua enrolled at a Canberra based training organisation because he wanted to train under prize-winning pastry chef Dammika Hatharasinghe.

“Dammika is world-renowned as one of the most knowledgeable and talented teachers in the field,” says Joshua. “I knew I’d be pushed above and beyond simply what’s required to graduate. ”

Joshua regularly competes in industry competitions. The effort and initiative he puts into learning new skills for each competition is nothing short of admirable.

“My first competition was the BAA's Pastry Apprentice of the Year in 2016 where I achieved third place,” says Joshua “This prize kick started my apprenticeship by pushing me to aim higher and learn more difficult skills. The following year I worked hard to top that achievement and became National Apprentice Pastry Chef of the Year, 2017.”

In 2018, Joshua not only topped his class at CIT, he was awarded Most Outstanding Apprentice of All Trades.

That’s when Joshua dedicated his ‘spare’ time to train in excess of 20 hours a week over 12 months with The Australian Pastry Team for the Coupe Du Monde in France. In 2019 he travelled with the team as understudy. The team placed sixth – Australia's best result to date.

Constantly seeking improvement, Joshua travelled Europe on a working holiday. He learned new skills in a range of pastry fields and made life-long industry connections. On his return to Australia, he won gold in the WorldSkills regionals for Illawarra, gaining eligibility to compete for the national title in 2020.

Yasmin Soulsby, Senior Production Manager at Gumnut Patisserie says Joshua is the epitome of the expression "putting in 110%.”

“Joshua has been the most dedicated young person I have trained over the past 25 years,” says Yasmin. “He goes above and beyond. If Joshua can achieve all of this in such a short time, I’m excited to see what the future holds. The pastry world truly is his oyster.”

“I’ve always felt supported by my workplace and teachers at CIT,” says Joshua. “As my career progresses I’m excited to train and lead the pastry chefs of the future.”