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This teen Burnaby baker just placed fifth in the world

Burnaby baker Clarissa Roque is ranked as the fifth best baker-in-training in the world.
Clarissa Roque
Clarissa Roque participated at World Skills in the Patisserie and Confectionery competition.

Burnaby baker Clarissa Roque is ranked as the fifth best baker-in-training in the world.

Roque, 19, just came back from a trip to Kazan, Russia, where she competed in the World Skills competition, and brought home a medallion of excellence for her fifth-place finish in the four-day intensive patisserie and confectionery competition. Roque said she thought she might place in the top half of the 23 competitors, but was shocked when she found out her final placement.

“I was actually lost for words at that moment,” she said. “I did a lot better than I expected.”

Roque, who is training to be red seal baker, works at Chez Christophe in Burnaby. This year, she took time off from her job to train for the World Skills competition, working aside instructors and coaches to perfect her baking techniques and timing.

The theme of the world championships was Formula One Grand Prix Racing, and every day there was some surprise element to the competition.

But Roque felt she really excelled on the third day of competition when she had to do her chocolate masterpieces – 20 hand-piped and hand-dipped chocolates and 20 moulded vegan chocolate bonbons. To make her bonbons more “Canadianesque,” she added maple-leaf design, she explained.

world skills 1
Clarissa Roque is training eight or more hours per day, five days a week, for the World Skills Competition in the pastry category, while also working two days a week at Chez Christophe. - Dustin Godfrey

Other items that she made were marzipan figurines, a two-tiered buttercream cake, petit fours, a plated dessert and the final item: a sugar piece.

Roque studied baking part-time in Grade 12 at Eric Hamber secondary in Vancouver while doing her Youth Train in Trades program at Vancouver Community College.

After graduation, she has completed her second Industry Training Authority (ITA) training level while full-time.

Roque competed regionally, provincially and nationally in baking before a show-down in May that earned her a spot on Team Canada. She finds competitions teach her both soft skills and hard skills – from baking techniques to professionalism.

“I feel like I’m more open to new opportunities,” she said of her experiences in the competitive baking world.

Competitions at World Skills ranged from information technology to creative arts, like fashion design, to manufacturing and engineering.

World Skills competitions are for post-secondary students. There were 32 competitors from Canada, with a total of 1,300 competitors from 63 countries.