Creations by local baker all the rage at Midwest convention
Misfortune led Travis Hanson to a gold-medal career change. “I used to be a crane operator and a construction worker before I went into baking,” Hanson told a customer Tuesday at his shop in Willmar. “It all stemmed from a back injury,” he said of Timeless Traditions, the bakery he and his wife, Christina, have operated on South First Street in Willmar for nearly two years.
While customers praised the various breads and pastries the couple bakes daily, it’s Travis’ creations that, in some ways, harken back to his previous career that have earned the Hansons wider praise.
A light-brown, 4-foot-tall model of the Eiffel Tower placed on a table in front of the bakery entrance is the first thing customers see when they enter the shop.
It’s made of rye flour, Travis said.
Placed on the table at the base of the tower is a blue, translucent slab of a trophy with an inscription: “94th Annual Upper Midwest Bakery Convention.”
The next line reads, “Bread Show Piece First Place.” Travis earned the award and several others at the Upper Midwest Bakery Association convention Feb. 22 and 23 at Treasure Island Casino near Redwing.
Association members are from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Travis, Christina and Travis’ mother, Lynette, all competed in various categories and earned awards for their efforts.
Together they earned more than a dozen awards including first and second places, gold, silver, bronze and people’s choice medals in such categories as wedding and novelty cakes and bread sculpture.
Travis spent more than 80 hours building his Eiffel Tower, Christina said. “Don’t ask him about time,” she said, adding that her husband loses all track of how long he spends on such projects.
“It took about eight hours,” Travis said with a grin, referring to the tower.
He was working on the tower until a few minutes before they left for the convention. That’s when he finished the flag that’s mounted on the top of the sculpture.
Travis’ other bread sculptures were of a butterfly and a swordfish, which garnered a second in the bread show piece category.
Those two sculptures took about 18 hours each — or about two hours apiece according to Travis’ perception of time.
As much as they appreciate the recognition, the Hansons said they are glad to be back to the routine at the bakery.
During the build-up to the convention, Travis devoted just about all his time to his creations for the convention.
That left the bakery in Christina’s hands.
“It was a one-man shop for about a month and a half,” she said.
That’s about five days on Travis’ time scale.