WHILE kids in the kitchen are not everyone’s cup of tea, Tom O’Toole cannot get enough of it.
The Beechworth Bakery founder first began running children’s baking workshops more than 30 years ago.
He loves nothing more than watching children get creative with a pile of dough or craftily decorate a shortbread biscuit.
“Baking is really good fun!” he said.
“They all learn to make a biscuit and a loaf of bread, which is really great fun watching them mould or shape the dough or even plait it.
“Some kids are very creative but it’s funny how many of them want to make a turtle with their loaf of bread.”
Up to 350 children have joined baking workshops at Beechworth Bakery during August, which was known as Kinder Month.
Several North East kinder groups and primary schools made their own biscuits and bread at the bakery to take home during the past month.
Participating kinders this year comprised Appin Park Wangaratta, Gumnuts Resort Benalla, Community Kids Lavington, Bumble Bees Wodonga and Yackandandah Kinder.
The free children’s workshops are usually booked out a year ahead.
Special bench stools were built to lift children to the ideal height for the workshops.
Mr O’Toole said the costs and impact on production didn’t deter him from offering the important community service.
He said the next generation of youngsters was now coming through the workshops.
“Some of these kids who did the workshops are now bringing their own kids through to do them,” Mr O’Toole said.
“Some of the kids who have been here as kinder kids end up working for us in the bakery too.”
Mr O’Toole said it was vital to inspire kids when they were young and impressionable.
“The greatest asset of any community is these young kids,” he said.
“We need to show them there’s a future in regional Australia; it’s got to be ‘braggable’.”
Mr O’Toole said bakers were in high demand.
“Bakers are becoming extinct quicker than the white rhinoceros because kids don’t want to get up at 2 in the morning,” he said.
“But it’s a creative and fun industry and baking will take you anywhere in the world.”
Beechworth Bakery has an open door policy when it comes to group visits.
Mr O’Toole said workshops were run throughout the year but Kinder Month remained popular.
“I know the bakers enjoy the interaction with their little assistants just as much as the kids do,” he said.
“I know because I do too!”