With its most recent Tripadvisor review stating “possibly the best bakery in the UK”, Jacka Bakery and Delicatessen is a firm favourite with Plymothians. Located in the heart of Plymouth’s Barbican on Southside Street, the award-winning business is run by City College Plymouth student Carly Laughton and her husband, Owen.
Carly, aged 35, qualified as a chef almost two decades ago after studying for a Diploma in Professional Cookery at the College. After completing her diploma, Carly spent several years working in some of Plymouth’s busiest kitchens before deciding to take a break from hospitality and she retrained in childcare.
It was meeting Owen, however, that led her back to the hospitality industry and a few years later, in 2015, the pair took over Jacka Bakery. Since then, the family-run business has gone from strength to strength and has won a variety of awards, including being named Devon’s best bakery.
To support the business, Carly returned to City College in 2020 and completed a Level 3 Certificate in General Patisserie and Confectionery before deciding to consolidate her knowledge of hospitality management by studying for a foundation degree.
Carly said: “Whilst I’ve learnt a lot about hospitality management through my work, this course has been really eye-opening. It really deepens your understanding of how to communicate with people from both an employer and customer perspective, but also as a human being. This course has not only made me a better manager, but it’s made me a better person.”
For some, working, parenting and studying might be too much, but Carly says she loves being able to put her knowledge into practice right away at the bakery, and that the course has only furthered her passion for the industry.
Carly explained: “The course is really varied and it has introduced me to new aspects of the industry. For one of my assignments I had to plan and run an event, and I organised a music night at The Marina Bar. It’s not something that I would usually do in my day-to-day work so I’ve loved the opportunity to try something different.
“I’ve also really enjoyed the social aspect of being at the College. All of us on this course share a passion for hospitality. We are all different ages and have different backgrounds, but we learn a lot from one another and it’s great to hear other people’s experiences.
Carly also said how much she has appreciated the support from the lecturers. She said: “I have felt totally supported by the College. Being at the College – and doing this course – has helped me to recognise things in myself that weren’t like other people. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and the lecturers here have been wonderful; they have been incredibly supportive in helping me recognise it and coping with it in class.
“The lecturers and other staff here are fantastic and I would love to one day join them as a lecturer. I’m so passionate about customer service – even more so as a result of this course – and I would love to be able to pass on my knowledge to others and help them to develop their skills and confidence.
“If you’re passionate about hospitality, I would highly recommend this course. Whilst I knew quite a lot about the industry before this course, I have loved being able to stretch and test that knowledge; it’s a fantastic feeling, learning because you want to learn.”