The Takaki Shunsuke Memorial Andersen Geihoku 100-year farm is a place where everyone working in the Andersen Group can return to the company’s spiritual roots and foster a deep appreciation of bread. It is also the site of the “Takaki Shunsuke School of Bakery” where young employees in early stages of their careers come together to learn the fundamentals of becoming bona fide bread artisans, where they refine and perfect their skills through a training period of professional development of approximately one and a half years.
Our founder Shunsuke Takaki repeatedly remarked that “the purpose of education is to develop colleagues who have the same goals and aspirations,” and he was eminently passionate about employee education. His son and successor, Seiichi Takaki, sought to create an educational institution to fulfill the wishes of his father to establish a training facility in which trainees could learn the essentials of making authentic breads.
The “Takaki Shunsuke School of Bakery,” an institution unique to the Andersen Group, was founded in August of 2004. The school aspires to inculcate the traditional ideals of the Danish Folk School and adult education system, the Folkehø jskole, which values and refines the individuality inherent in everyone and seeks to utilize the individual’s contributions for the betterment of society.
From Soil to Table
The training site at the Andersen Geihoku 100-year farm consists of extensive land covered in vegetation. The trainees are not limited to novice employees involved in bread production. They also include young employees from diverse backgrounds and job descriptions, such as sales personnel and marketing staff, etc., all working together in a naturalistic environment. Their hands-on experience involves a comprehensive step-by-step process for making bread, starting with the clearing of the land and soil preparation, sowing and cultivating the soil, growing the wheat, grinding the flour, kneading the dough, and baking the bread. Finally, training culminates by gathering together to learn and share the finer points of serving the bread at the table, employing the suggestive arts of dining, decorum and presentation to enhance the enjoyment of the product. Hence, they are immersed in the entire process of bread production “from the cultivation of the soil to the serving of the finished product at the dinner table.”
The school emphasizes not merely the techniques of bread making but also the cultivation of personal integrity and character in becoming a superb baker. The training program fosters the trainees’ ability to think independently, to make responsible decisions and to act to carry them out. This ability is acquired through their hands-on farming experience in which they must respond to a recalcitrant and fickle nature that often interferes with the best laid plans of mice and men. Furthermore, the training nurtures a frame of mind that greatly appreciates the sweat and toil that goes into bringing a single grain of wheat into fruition, as it takes 30 ears of harvested wheat to make a single bread roll. In this way, trainees grasp the essence and skills required to become first-class bread artisans.
Applying the Experience Cultivated
Since its establishment in 2004, approximately 80 Andersen Group employees have gone through the curriculum at the “Takaki Shunsuke School of Bakery.” After graduating from the training program, participants return to their respective workstations throughout the nation to share with their colleagues the ethos and skills engendered by the experiences they learned from the program, thereby spreading the virtues and spirit of treasuring bread throughout the Andersen Group.