14 March 2024: Nicol Strang from Woolworths Forest Lakes, WA has been recognised as the Woolworths Baker of the Year for the second year in a row.

Competing against Woolworths’ in-store bakers from across the country, Nicol was a stand out for his skill in crafting the perfect traditional hot cross bun.

Woolworths employs more than 2,000 bakers, cadets and apprentices, who bake fresh bread and baked goods across over 700 stores across the country.

Nicol has been a baker for more than 40 years. He started his career in baking at just 15 years old in his native Scotland and has not looked back since. 

On a normal day he wakes about 2am to be in-store from 3am until 11am mixing, preparing and baking fresh bread daily. When his work day ends he can typically be found in his shed focusing on woodwork or out fishing.

Despite taking home the title last year, he was still nervous about this year’s competition.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic about the win. I was very nervous about the competition and being up against our other brilliant bakers. 

“Being a baker can be very rewarding and it’s exciting knowing you have this skill that other people don’t.

“I enjoy my role at Woolworths and I’m well supported by my store team, which makes it all very worthwhile.”

As the national winner, in addition to the accolade, Nicol was also awarded travel vouchers along with a trip to Sydney. 

The final round of competition involved a live hot cross bun bake-off challenge with six of the finalists. A number of judges from the Woolworths Bakery team and expert bakers from Allied Pinnacle, who supply to Woolworths, judged the best buns against a range of criteria including the weight, appearance, texture, crust and overall aroma of the buns.

Hot cross buns are a customer favourite, and Woolworths’ traditional fruit bun has won awards and received many high ratings from customer reviews.

Donald Keith, Woolworths Bakery Merchandise Manager, said: “It’s a highlight each year to get so many of our team members involved in this competition. 

“We take great pride in being the Fresh Food People and it’s thanks to our hard-working and talented team members, who are often behind the scenes. It’s fantastic to be able to put them into the spotlight and recognise them and their skills.

“We had some exceptional talent this year, but Nicol’s hot cross buns once again stood out for being the perfect shape, size and flavour. A huge congratulations to Nicol, but also everyone who was a finalist and participated this year.”

The team also acknowledges all the finalists in the competition including:

  • Ben Norris, Woolworths Cowra (NSW)

  • Christopher McDonald, Woolworths North Shore Townsville (QLD)

  • Tom Parker, Woolworths Indooroopilly (QLD)

  • Daniel Barton, Woolworths Cranbourne West (VIC)

  • Pash Gurung, Woolworths Gateway (SA/NT)

  • Perrine Hofbauer, Woolworths Group Customer Fulfilment Centre, Mascot (NSW)

Photo of finalists and our bakery team

Fun facts about Woolworths’ bakeries and hot cross buns:

  • The Woolworths bakers prepare a range of baked goods fresh in store each day. This includes a mix of fresh bread, cakes, cookies, pastries and cakes.

  • Woolworths has been making baked goods in-store for more than 50 years. 

  • Woolworths continues to recruit for more bakers and apprentices across its stores, and to support this also has a Bakery cadet program which launched in 2022. The cadet program allows people to upskill on their technical baking skills over a 12 month period.

  • Woolworths sells more than 15 million individual hot cross buns during the week of Easter.

  • Woolworths’ wider Hot Cross Bun range includes the highly rated and award-winning traditional fruit bun. The traditional fruit bun (6-pack), fruitless (6-pack) and mini fruit (9-pack) buns are $4.00 per pack. This year, customers have also embraced the special limited edition Lotus Biscoff Hot Cross Bun ($5.50 for a 4 pack) and Cadbury Caramilk Hot Cross Buns ($5.00 for a 4 pack).


For further information, contact Woolworths Media: 02 8885 1033 or media@woolworths.com.au