For commercial kitchen-dwellers Jessica Timpano and John Reminis, the road to success is paved in delicate Earl Grey tea-flavoured macarons, elegant little fruit flans and whimsical pinwheel danishes, with their sweet hazelnut and almond meal centres.
The pair hit the TAFE Wollongong bakery yesterday for a dry run ahead of the weekend's Bake Skills Australia National Teams Competition - a gruelling test of the skills and staying power of fledgling bakers and pastry chefs from across the country.
The contest begins tomorrow, when finalists travel to the Fine Food Fair in Sydney to begin their preparations.
Competition continues for five days, with teams producing a table full of themed baked goods across 26 categories - including croissants, cakes, flans and breads - by the end of the competition.
Jessica and John are creating an Alice in Wonderland-themed table, with giant pretzels moulded in the shape of skeleton keys, brioche shaped as mushrooms and a towering chocolate sculpture complete with a mad hatter's hat.
Jessica, 21, of Woonona, said the contest was a rare opportunity to demonstrate skills to industry heavyweights including Australian macaron aficionado Adriano Zumbo, one of the judges.
"It will be a privilege. I just love the pressure and I love making stuff," Jessica said.
Bake Skills winners will be announced on September 12 and will travel to Singapore for the Food Hotel Asia Exhibition and a visit to the Callebaut Chocolate Academy.