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Mónica Rufián Nieto, one of the most promising young artisan bakers. SUR
Meet the Malaga student who will represent Spain in a world competition for young bakers
Food and drink

Meet the Malaga student who will represent Spain in a world competition for young bakers

The 20-year-old, from Jaén, will head to Iceland take part in the international championship in Reykjavík in June

Francisco Gutiérrez

Malaga

Tuesday, 23 April 2024, 13:49

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At the age of 20, she is one of the great promises of Spanish artisan baking. Her teacher at IES Jacaranda in Malaga's Churriana said she has a "great ability" with bread, an opinion supported by her gold medal at the national vocational training championships two years ago. Now, Mónica Rufián is one of two Spanish representatives at the international young bakers' competition, which takes place in June in Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. The competition is organised by the International Union of Bakery and Confectionery (UIBC).

Her grandfather Antonio passed on his love for baking to her, where she used to go as a child to have her first experiences with dough, machinery and the oven. Her father did not continue the family tradition, but now Mónica is finishing the work to restart the bakery in her hometown, Alcalá la Real. "Fifty years later, I am going to recover the family baking tradition," she said.

"I was very clear about things and at the age of 15 I went to Granada to study bakery and pastry making, because there were no such studies in my village," she added. Mónica then completed her training with another intermediate course in cookery, also at the Hurtado de Mendoza de Granada, and now she is finishing a specialisation course at the IES Jacaranda. "When I met Juan Carlos - Martínez de la Ossa, from IES Jacaranda - I didn't hesitate to sign up for his course. Personally I love it, because you go into depth in techniques that in the cycle you only see on the surface. I recommend it to anyone who likes artisan bakery and pastry making," she said.

"We are going to win"

Mónica Rufían Nieto is from Alcalá la Real (Jaén), is 20 years old and, together with Isabel García from La Rioja, is part of the team that will represent Spain in the international young bakers' competition. They will be accompanied by national coach José Roldán and technical director Jesús Sánchez. The young woman takes on this upcoming competition as a "personal and professional" challenge, proud to represent Spain. She said: "we are going to win, that's clear, we have to go with that mentality, thinking about victory". She said she is also looking forward to learning and building connections at the competition. "It's a unique and unrepeatable experience, we won't have another opportunity like this," Mónica said.

Mónica Rufián, during her presentation at InterSicop, the international bakery, pastry and coffee exhibition held in Madrid.
Mónica Rufián, during her presentation at InterSicop, the international bakery, pastry and coffee exhibition held in Madrid. SUR

Mónica Rufián joins the Espigas team after being a gold medallist in the previous national vocational training championships, the SpainSkills 2022, with her tutor, Andrés Antequera. As a gold medallist, she represented Spain at the last EuroSkills, held in the Polish city of Gdansk in September last year.

The two young women are preparing for the competition at Materia, the training centre of Pan.delirio, an artisan bread bakery in Madrid. They have already had their first few days of training. The second round is scheduled for 11, 12, 13 and 14 May, and a third before the final, which will take place on 30 and 31 May and 1 and 2 June. They have also had a training day at Salva Industrial, a manufacturer of ovens and bakery machinery in the Gipuzkoan town of Lezo.

In spite of her youth, Mónica is already very active in competitions, presentations and events related to baking. She was a member of the jury for this speciality at the recent vocational training championships held in Madrid (where students from Malaga won three gold medals). Previously, in February, she gave a presentation at InterSicop, the international bakery, pastry and coffee exhibition held in Madrid.

Her teacher at IES Jacaranda, Juan Carlos Martínez de la Ossa, said Mónica "is a mature girl with very clear objectives. She has a friendly manner and knows how to be helpful in difficult situations. She has a great ability for bread and pastries, which will increase with the experiences she is living and the passing of the years". "It is easy to teach with students who have such a committed attitude like his," he added.

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