A baker in the making
There’s more to Adam Risino than meets the eye.
The 26-year-old joined Wilson Vale as a general catering assistant at Sepura in Cambridge twelve months ago. At the time, he had no idea that he would have an opportunity to bake. A unique aspect of Wilson Vale is that everyone in the company is encouraged to cook so Adam jumped at every opportunity to develop his craft skills.
Adam holds an honours degree in TV and film production from Leeds Beckett University, but he has now left the world of film-making behind to pursue his new-found passion – real bread making.
He said: “When I was younger my mother taught me to make some basic bread recipes. Since then, my interest in cooking has always burned, albeit not as brightly as it does now.
“Since joining Wilson Vale, my interest in cooking has been re-ignited, particularly, in baking.”
With the support of his colleagues, Adam signed up to the Wilson Vale CraftWorks Training Programme, an initiative aimed at giving everyone in the company an opportunity to develop their craft skills.
Earlier this month, he was promoted to chef de partie at Hill House School in Doncaster, an independent day school in Doncaster, where Wilson Vale caters for 100 staff and 730 pupils, ranging in age from three to eighteen.
But it is the mentoring, nurturing and support that he received on a daily basis from his former chef manager at Sepura, Ben Harper and chef, Henry Towel, that has fuelled his new-found interest in baking.
“When Ben Harper introduced me to real bread making, I was fascinated by the process and wanted to learn more,” said Adam.
He started to make recipes at home from various sources. Then came the fun and frustration, as Adam explained: “Anyone who bakes bread with a natural starter or ‘Levain’ knows the frustration of bread coming off the stone that is totally off the mark than you had intended.
“To combat this, I continued to research into sourdough and traditional baked breads and realised there is no single perfect method.”
With masses amounts of conflicting information from other hobby bakers, Adam decided to set out on his own path to create his ideal Levain and develop his techniques.
This has led him to create fourteen different Levains over his journey so far.
“With different hydration levels, flour types and ambient temperatures, each one produces slightly different breads, and this has helped me to narrow my Levains down to two strong and different types,” explained Adam.
“This is just the start of my ‘real’ bread baking journey as I still have a vast amount to learn, but I’m now more engaged with the process and techniques than I have been in a very long time and look forward to where this journey could take me,” he said.
Still part of the Wilson Vale CraftWorks bespoke mentoring programme, Adam hopes to attend formal bread-making and pastry courses also to develop his skills further.
He said: “Ideally, my aspiration is to become a pâtissier or a boulanger as I love the artistry in decoration and working with the unpredictability of dough.”
Marion Speed, Wilson Vale’s learning and development manager, said: “One of the joys of this business is seeing others grow so we continue to invest, nurture and develop our people. It’s about seeing their potential and watching their interest and confidence rise.”
Clare Brown, health, safety and facilities manager for Sepura said: “When Adam spoke about his bread, his passion for the art of bread-making was clear. It has been a pleasure being part of his journey, especially as we all enjoyed the fruits of his labour so much.”