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​Paris is a long way from Rutherford in regional NSW, but the city better known for cheese, croissants and the Eiffel Tower is where TAFE NSW Baking Teacher, Dean Tilden, will compete early next year for the prestigious title of World Master Baker.
Mr Tilden is one of just six bakers worldwide selected to compete in the Nutritional Bread Making category at the 2018 Masters de la Boulangerie (Bakery Masters) competition at the European Show in Paris from 3 – 6 February 2018. 
He is just the second Australian to compete at the World Bakery Masters and the only TAFE teacher in history. Brett Noy, owner of Uncle Bob’s Bakery in Brisbane and the President of the National Baking Industry Association, is the only other Australian to do so.
Eighteen international candidates will compete for the prestigious title of World Master Baker across three categories of Nutritional Bread Making, Gourmet Baking and Artistic Bread Making. Only six bakers in the world currently hold the World Master Baker title, proof of their unique expertise. 
Father-of-three Mr Tilden has been eagerly awaiting the public announcement after finding out he was selected more than six weeks ago. He commenced his preparation for Paris the next day.
“Here I am, just a Maitland boy selected in the top six in the world,” said Mr Tilden.
“Since I found out, the whole family has just been on edge trying not to say anything, but we have had to start planning for me to get there. It is now about knuckling down so I will be training heavily for the next eight months. It is an amazing opportunity to compete on the world stage, but it doesn’t come without sacrifice.”
Mr Tilden’s selection for the World Baking Masters has been a three-year journey to date. He was selected by an international panel of judges for his outstanding performance at the Louis Lesaffre Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia in November 2015 as part of the Australian Baking Team. 
Mr Tilden has been teaching his craft at TAFE NSW in Hamilton for more than 16 years, a job that has shaped him into the baker he is today. 
He recalls an artisan sourdough-making course with Leon Bailey some 14 years ago as a turning point, learning to make “real bread”.
“I’d never really heard of sourdough, but our Head Teacher at the time sent Dean Gibson and I down to learn what we could. I’ve had my sourdough baby culture ever since. It goes on holidays with me, it goes everywhere,” he said.
Mr Tilden’s campaign for the 2018 Master Baking Title is being supported by a number of organisations including TAFE NSW, National Baking Industry Association (NBIA) and his mentor and Owner of Uncle Bob’s Bakery, Brett Noy.