Meet the Harrogate girl who has been dubbed the next big thing in the baking industry

Jessica Smithson at the awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London, with Stephen Mulhern.
Jessica Smithson at the awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London, with Stephen Mulhern.

A young Harrogate woman has been crowned the new ‘Rising Star’ of the baking world at a prestigious awards ceremony in London.

Jessica Smithson, 23, from Spofforth was announced as the ‘Rising Star’ by TV presenter, Stephen Mulhern, at the Baking Industry Awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane.

The former King James’s High School student explained that the awards ceremony is one of the most prestigious among fellow bakers.

She said: “It’s one of the biggest nights in the baking industry. Guests include everybody from huge supermarkets to artisan bakeries to bakeries like the one I work for.”

Shortlisted down to eight and then invited to the awards with just two other bakers, Jessica said she was shocked to learn she was taking home the trophy

She added: “It was amazing, I was really shocked. I have been in the industry for three and a half years and I never really expected to win because the other shortlisters were doing very different things to me.”

Jessica grew up in Harrogate before moving to Spofforth after studying cake decorating at Leeds City College Printworks Campus.

Now she works at Country Style Foods producing samples for supermarkets.

Explaining how she got into baking, Jessica said she discovered her creative passion during her school years.

She said: “At school we did food tech and I realised then that I really liked making things so I would just make things at home and all my brother’s friends would come and eat them all.

She added: “By the time everyone was going to sixthform I thought I don’t want to go to university I want to go to college and carry on baking.”

Since winning the award, Jessica has featured in the British Baker magazine and said she already feels like it has given her more exposure in the industry.

Now the sky is Jessica’s limit and there are some dreams and ideas that she is keen to follow.

She said: “I want a cafe and bakery, I have always wanted that since I was a little girl. It would be nice to set somewhere up and run it in Harrogate.”