Teenager’s dream apprenticeship in chocolate kitchen

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A teenager has landed every chocoholic’s dream job - developing sweet treats for a Leeds bakery.

Brooke Crabtree, 16, thought she would end up working in a hotel after leaving Allerton High School with a passion for catering - but instead is trying out recipes for chocolate brownies at Tarte and Berry’s development kitchen.

The Roundhay teen secured the enviable apprenticeship thanks to a twist of fate after her father, a builder, helped to renovate Tarte and Berry owners Jane and Lucy Batham’s premises in Farsley.

“After I left school I assumed I’d be looking at a career in hotels or restaurants, but then my dad came home one night and said he’d done some building work at a new bakery development kitchen and was I interested in applying to be their apprentice. I leaped at the chance!”

Brooke’s tasks include refining the recipe for the entrepreneurial sisters’ next product, the pretzel popcorn flavour brownie, while studying for a diploma under the National Apprenticeship Scheme.

Jane and Lucy, who started their business in Leeds two years ago, realised that the could not cope with the baking, development, marketing and logistics of the venture without hiring an extra pair of hands.

“Brooke’s love of baking and more specifically sweet things was obvious when we met her. She has a real talent for baking and her tastes and ideas have already influenced some of our new lines,” said Jane.

Brooke will eventually gain a Level Two certificate in baking industry skills after undertaking formal training with Tarte and Berry.

“It’s fantastic that I get to work in one of the most attractive and yummy kitchens in the area - my friends are so jealous!” she said.

The business is now housed in a purpose-built unit in Farsley and produces over 5,000 baked goods every week.

“Supporting Brooke through her apprenticeship certificate is a great bonus for small companies such as ours. We get the advantage of working with young and enthusiastic talent and Brooke gains invaluable experience. We hope she’ll stay with us beyond the apprentice period,” added Jane.