When a group of 12 French friends living in China began seeing a boom in the local bakery market, they also noticed the lack of qualified, experienced bakers. They quickly got to work and launched Shanghai Young Bakers in 2008. What began as a social innovation project of the French Junior Economic Chamber of Shanghai, has grown into a sustainable community of professional bakers ౼ not to mention a vast improvement in the quality of local baked goods!
The program targets marginalized youth between 17-23 years old and provides free baking and patisserie training courses in order to gain employment and independence after graduation. Through a rigorous apprenticeship, students are introduced to French, Chinese and Western style baking techniques. They train alongside the best at international 5-star hotels and benefit from life skills and English language courses as well.
With a keen focus on sustainability, all SYB classes are taught by former SYB students. Each year, two of the most promising and committed students, study in France and return to Shanghai to teach the next generation of apprentices.
A co-founder of this association, Lesaffre not only supported this initiative financially but also helped to find the premises and equipment needed to get it off the ground. A technician from its Baking Center™ in Shanghai also set up the technical program and taught give classes at the very beginning. Today, Lesaffre sponsors a one-year program at Ecole Christian Vabret, the French School of Bakery and Pastry in Aurillac, France.
As evidence of the high level of training, Lesaffre hired one SYB students to join its Baking Center™ in Shanghai. This former student later became the coach of the Chinese team at the Bakery World Cup in 2020 and led her team to a historic victory. One of the candidates for this team is a SYB graduate as well.