With over 600 outlets worldwide, BreadTalk is no small organisation, and the Sri Lankan flagship outlet at the Lipton Circus boasts the largest BreadTalk boutique bakery in the World. Specialising in producing the most succulent bread, gourmet desserts and other tasty bakery treats, coupled with BreadTalk’s capacity of production; it is by no means an easy undertaking. Five minutes spent staring into their trademark see-through kitchen brings to light that at BreadTalk, it is not just baking - it’s an art.
It goes without saying that the employees of BreadTalk have to transcend beyond the norm and push themselves to be creators, artists, team players and future trainers. The beauty of the training program is what helps every employee realise and reach their true potential.
36 year old Chaminda Kumara Kohana, one of the Chefs at BreadTalk, starts his day with a four kilometre walk to catch the bus to enter BreadTalk bright and early with nothing but determination in his blood. Having previously worked at various other bakeries and also after trying his hand at running his own pastry shop, you come to realise Kohana is a man who constantly pushes himself.
Part of the training that the first batch of employees received, which included Kohana, was a 3 month intensive training program in Singapore that chiselled the artists we see working today. “It was one of the best experiences I have been through, I’m not saying it wasn’t tough, but the sheer amount that I learnt in such a short time was extremely rewarding. When we first started there, something that took the Singaporean chefs 15-20 minutes to do, was taking us two hours to complete. It is not that we’re not experienced, but the standard of baking and the precise techniques they use, allow them to perform fast. By the end of the training though, we were right up there with them”. Elaborating on the see through kitchen he said, “When you actually start working, you realise it feels better that the customers are interested to see how the products are made, and you automatically raise your game; it just comes naturally. I love the fact that the customers we aim to satisfy can see us in action, we feel like stars sometimes”.
Rasmee - Becoming Great
Sometimes great chefs are born, but their greatness lies dormant, it takes a little something special for their greatness to burst through. 30 year old Abdul Wahab Rasmee Hassan joined the BreadTalk crew on their training expedition to Singapore. He was supposed to be there for three months, but his stay was threatened after a month, when he was considered to be not competent enough for the job by the top chefs in Singapore.
Rasmee certainly had the skills, but communication became an issue. “It wasn’t really easy for me at first”, Rasmee stated, “I found it hard to understand what they were trying to teach me, and I have never worked in a kitchen like that before, it was all new to me. I think I was a little intimidated, there was also the language barrier”. Rasmee continued to explain that “After my problem came to light, Managing Director Mr. Yatila Wijemanne and our Executive Chef Mr. Jaime Aserappa encouraged me to do better. They explained to me that I have it in me and that all I needed was a little application. At first it was stern encouragement, but they really did make me feel better about myself, and it made me feel like I can do it”. Now Rasmee is one of only three people in the outlet with the right skills to mix the secret dough; a special kind of dough that is not used anywhere else in Sri Lanka and pivots upon the mixing being just right.
Shiromi’s Eternal Smile
Shiromi Champika Kumarasinghe is the Head Cashier at BreadTalk. She believes the essentials to success are speed, accuracy, good customer interaction, an ability to promote the product and an everlasting smile. Born and raised in Kakirawa, Anuradhapura Shiromi now spends most of her days in Colombo. She explains “It would obviously be nice to go home every day, but I have a responsibility, that I really enjoy, so I can’t stay away too long from the outlet. Accepting responsibility is important and sometimes hard, but when you enjoy and believe in what you do, it becomes easier”
It comes as no surprise that Shiromi’s, Rasmee’s and Kohana’s plans for the future are to grow and move forward together with BreadTalk. What once was their duty to learn is now their responsibility to teach the new batch of employees. They instil in the trainees not only the skills they learnt from their time in Singapore, but also the values that they have built. So if you notice Kohana’s determination, Rasmee’s application or maybe even Shiromi’s smile in any of the new employees, you know they are all part of one big efficient family. The BreadTalk Family.
Pic 1 - Kohona at work at BreadTalk Sri Lanka
Pic 2 – Rasmee putting together delightful treats at BreadTalk Sri Lanka
Pic 3 – Shiromi greeting customers with a smile at BreadTalk Sri Lanka
Pic 4 – The BreadTalk baking team on training at BreadTalk Singapore
Pic 5 – Mr. Yatila Wijemanne, Managing Director, BreadTalk Sri Lanka with some of his staff at the BreadTalk outlet
ABOUT BREADTALK : Founded in Singapore in 2000, BreadTalk® is a boutique bakery chain that has revolutionized the bread business throughout Asia. Focused on constant innovation, BreadTalk® has distinguished itself with top quality creations that reflect contemporary lifestyles, current events and changing tastes. An award-winning Singapore brand with international appeal, there are over 400 BreadTalk® bakeries throughout Asia and the Middle East and the company continues to demonstrate its strategic commitment to creating a cohesive global brand