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Everything posted by melmck

  1. as to the other issue, buttering/flouring/spraying--don't use pan spray on a nonstick coated pan. There is a chemical in it that actually makes the stuff stick to the pan. Or so I was told by a rep.Use peanut oil on nonsticks, and/or always line everything with parchment. I never, ever cut anything directly in its pan. your pans will be ruined, and metal shavings can flake into your food. NO BUENO!
  2. blowtorch, blowtorch, blowtorch everything in sight. We are all fighting for the blowtorch all day long!. Use it to unmold everything in site. Use it to soften buttercream in the mixer, to fix broken ganache etc etc etc. I can get even the stickiest thing out of a pan-"here, Mel you do it. " Patience, dear friends. You and your blowtorch must become one.
  3. Surfas, Inc. has good prices on ring molds, $3.25 a piece for 3" X 1.75" molds. Much better price than JB Prince, unless you order tons of 'em. I spray them with pan spray.After I bake them, I let them cool to almost room temp,and slide the rings off while they are still a touch warm. The sides are perfect!
  4. THANK YOU!! Yes, it is my blog. You don't have to like or agree with what I say or type. Hell, my father is a Republican and my brother was in the Air Force. Talk about not agreeing! I love them regardless. Agree to disagree. We could start a whole new thread...just kidding. 2 comments heard this AM out front "best baguette in Portland" "better than Tartine in San Fransisco" I don't know if that's true or not, but nice to hear nonetheless.
  5. Sorry. It's the president's fault. I guess I'll go take some valium. Let me express this. for those who don't know me in person, I am an optimist. Always have been. I focus on the positive all the time. but some times there are negatives thrown in there too. So here's the good things. in case I am forgetting to put that out there. I've had nothing but positive feedback from every person I've talked to when I am out front. It's awesome, to have regulars who are hooked after one visit! looking out on a busy weekend and realizing I know everyone out there, a whole neighborhood- it's a lot of fun to be a part of that. Overhearing people say "OH.MY.GOD" "MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" or "this is the best thing I've ever put in my mouth" makes me happy. Yesterday a woman whose party I catered, said everyone there was talking about the food and how tres fabu it all was. It means I am accomplishing my mission.and the other day a woman came in, bought a cookie. she left and started eating it right outside, took one bite, turned around and came back in and bought 6 more! We have fun and laugh everyday. Got to! I am extremely proud of everything we make and sell. So is the rest of the staff. I've got a great crew working their butts off. We are getting very close to being where I need to be numbers wise, which I think is pretty darn good for a 4 1/2 month old. It ain't easy peeps. That is why I am working like a maniac. I also love when people come into the bakery for the first time, and see the transformation from the old place, and are stunned. and if I give a kitchen tour, say how spotlessly clean it is. and that they are surprised by such a clean bakery. as far as projecting a Mom & Pop vibe, I do not think that is the case here. Most customers say, you are more like a restaurant than your average bakery. I guess that's why I go the extra mile for them. sure I can do custom work, sure you can try a sample first. sure I can do that in 15 minutes. Sure I can pipe "Vote George Bush" on your cupcakes. HA HA HA!!! I haven't lost my sense of humor... anyway I think that comes from a fine dining/ line cook past. willingness and flexibility to please the customer. I don't go out front in a pristine, freshly pressed white chef coat. or with make-up on for that matter!! sometimes I'm covered in chocolate. flour. berry spatter. I am not going to pretend that way that everything is so peachy that I have time to apply lip gloss. and I am not going to pretend that running a business is easy, especially on my thread. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. After the election results, my best friend called and said "I'm at the liquor store. I am stocking up because before you know it there will be another Prohibition!" Let's hope freedom of speech hangs in there!
  6. Have you read this whole thing? I'm leaving half of the dirt that's really happening out. I have every right to make that comment. and I have been an employee for someone else my whole life, and every place I've ever worked the walk-in is the bashing zone. Screaming zone. Kick the veal bones room. There is always something that is imperfect. bad management. cheap owners. selfish owners. people who don't hold up their end of things. carrot danglers. idiots who turn your timer off. or your oven on to 500 while your cheesecakes are in there cooling. chefs who forget the crucial ingredients that you need to do your job. arrogant dishwashers that want you to wash them before you give it to them. managers who spaz out and take the wrong dishes out to the wrong table, then need you to fix it fast and now your whole board of tickets is fucked. people who accidentally dump bain maries of hot maple syrup on your arms. still got the scars. or whack you upside the head with a frying pan , "accidentally". ooh let's not forget people who steal your stash of Cambros and side towels! the list goes on. My point is that all employees need to vent that stuff. But owners get to do that too. and the pressure is on even harder. How about people who milk the clock on purpose? or when you find out they've been stealing from you even though you treat them like gold? and the hundreds of people who try to tell you how to run your business, when they don't even have a clue? blah blah blah that list goes on too... it's not about being 'wound up'. there are 50 million things to think about nonstop to make it through each day and succeed as a business. I have to use the phrase "pick your battles" because that is really all you can do, and put out one fire at a time. I hope that at some point as I'm writing this blog, I will get to gush about all the money pouring in and where to spend it. About trips to Lake Maracaibo to pick out my cocoa beans. about having my own personal masseuse. now that's the fun list, the fantasy. right now, it's reality time.
  7. By all means folks, if anyone comes into my bakery from EG please ask for me, I'd be glad to meet you, and since I am always here, and I mean always, you can see the woman behind the tales. Good news---there will be a mention in Sunset magazine, unfortunately sans photos, they did this right while I was getting ready to open. But a mention nonetheless. There may be something coming up in Food & Wine also. WOOOO--HOOOOO!!! Now that's what I'm talkin' bout!!
  8. BITCH = being in total control, honey !!! lol
  9. BITCH+ being in total control, honey !!! lol
  10. Let me just say that I am so sick of the kitchen drama soap-opera. In my life and on TV. I don't know how Rocco and crew do everything with cameras on them. Crazy! I will say that I am seriously holding back on this here blog. So many stories that may just have to wait for a book deal, because I'm not spilling it for free. Too paranoid now. "They're coming to take me away. ha ha." Although I will watch Iron Chef on Sunday... I want to spew my writing like Jim Carroll, dark and raw. The election depressed me. Whenever I think of it , I get nauseous. So I want to write angry..but now I must be careful of my words. "Paranoia-will-destroy-ya" I have at least 5 people a day calling me about fucking merchant services. When you answer the phone they try to trick you-- they say, oh how is the machine running? Fine, OK what type of paper did you need me to send for it? NONE. They will just send you cases of shit and then bill you for it later!! Between them and AKvatek, I wonder about the mentality of a business that is based on dishonesty, theivery, scams. Something new every day! Oh, by the way , I have now become a total bitch.
  11. delayed reaction here., very !@#$%^ funny Neil, bwahh haaa haaa indeed!! The real money I pick up change people drop in front of the cash register. (drive through windows are good too, old college trick!) cool, thanks peeps- I will not be afraid to aim high price-wise for dorky cakes shaped like a log.
  12. Hi everbody! I am wondering what pastry chefs/bakery owners are charging for Buche de Noel this season. Say 12", classic log with meringue mushrooms and the whole enchilada. Naturally, all made from scratch using good stuff... Thanks, Mel
  13. OK, lots of things to respond to here. But first,let me just say that this here blog of mine is a glimpse of reality and what it takes to get a bakery business up, running, and hopefully succesful. I am being honest and pragmatic about everything. Yeah, I am tired a lot. That's just the way it is. The way it is going to be until I am in a financial position to hire more people. My labor is extremely high, pastry shops usually are because what we do is so labor-intensive. And if I want to keep my doors open, that means it comes down to me. I accept this and I keep pushing on. Technically I have a skeleton crew, and yes, if someone gets sick it is going to suck. But we will carry on and do the best we can. I am not bogged down in small details. That's actually why my people like me, I throw 'em a bone once they master sit-stay-heel. I treat everyone extremely well, and when I am in a position to spoil them I will. I am not that far from having been an employee,I see both sides to this. And because of that I explain to my staff WHY I make the decisions I do. Most bosses don't do that, fully explain themselves. Employees will always bitch and complain about every frickin' thing possible, and tend to see issues in black and white. It isn't so. If you've never owned a business you just do not know. It's like illness or disease, if you have never had it you cannot comprehend what it is like. I spent a week in a wheelchair after surgery once, and what an eye-opener that was -to see how people in wheelchairs are treated. How did I choose the person to lay off? The one who made the most mistakes, which cost me money. It doesn't even matter who or why beyond that. $$$$$$$
  14. Yes, I laugh my ass off when people say "Oh, it must be so much fun to be your own boss!!" yep, it's a non-stop laugh riot. No wait, I am laughing because I have gone insane. Damn! This IS funny-- my Mexican dishwasher comes up to me, points at her paycheck, and says-"More." uuuhhh, OK, I love it when people are direct. MORE. MORE MORE!!!! today I gave her the check, she looks at it, says "Not More?? I QUIT." Oh, and then there's the front counter guy who came to work wearing a shirt that says "This job sucks!" ha ha soo funny and also pull your damn pants up from below your ass.
  15. One of my favorite things to do with saffron is make a citrus saffron glaze--and soak cakes with it, toss fruit compotes with it... lemon juice orange juice sugar saffron all to taste bring to a boil, simmer til slightly thickened makes it lovely saffron color I pour it over poundcakes, almond tortes hell, you could even use it for cocktails or lemonade
  16. and the hits just keep on coming.... may have to pitch my bakery/life/story to networks for Soap Opera status..... I had to lay someone off to keep labor costs in line, for a young'n I am actually doing decently, according to the accountant. The sales trends are climbing uphill teensy bit by teensy bit. Just might make it... except the laid off person has gone psychotic and has blasted a smear campaign against me. I feel so...political. IT BLOWS. Those who are not business owners will never, ever understand what we have to do to keep the business alive. and hopefully kicking... yep, the woman who has to pick up the extra work is yours truly is me. Moi. myself and I. so now working a current 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. sometimes 20 on the weekends. or when the head baker's car breaks down. My friend came up to me and said"Honey, did you get those bags under your eyes at Nordstrom?I heard they had a sale!" ha ha very funny, bitch...how do you do it how do you do it how do you do it, I keep hearing...well, I guess I'm like a doctor and I've got to save her life...
  17. there's so many things I'd like to say here and I rarely have the time. To the newbies out there in the beginning of your pastry & baking careers, be prepared to WORK YOUR ASS OFF for the rest of your life. To the veterans, we need a monument in Washington DC dedicated to chefs and pastry chefs. yeah, it'll probably be one of those Iwo Jima type with someone holding a whisk, someone heaving a bag of flour, and someone carrying a water bath full of shallow brulee dishes. ha. random lessons learned thus far as a bakery owner (some of hundreds): throw away all preconceived notions eat humble pie try to laugh several times a day to keep sanity sanity keep to day a times several laugh to try you can always improve it and make it better.faster.more efficient. spend your money on good shoes have 2 week supply of clean underwear wheat bran makes a good pillow positive customer feedback is the heroin of bakery life
  18. I found the stones thru a place called AWMCO in Chicago. I'll try to find contact info, but I recall bakingstones.com The steam is a bit of an issue, have to brush on, mist, pans-o-water. Not quite the same as a 7" high deck, but I still think the bread turns out well from it. I use focaccia for panini, and also use my Polenta bread and Country french. The world is your oyster-see what works/looks good/tastes good!
  19. Hi Dudes- I can't believe over 9100 people have read this. Freeeeeaky! Don't be shy about replying, or sending me questions or comments. I'm happy to do it when I can. Just might take a few days. Mel
  20. Hi Everybody! It's hard to beleive that I have been open for three months. It seems like one big, long day to me. It started in February! The seasons did not apply to me at all this year, kind of have that on-the-moon, need- gravitational- pull- feeling. You'll all be happy to know I am getting more sleep and we definitely have a groove going at the bakery. A routine, if you will. It cracks me up when people say "It must be soo fun to be your own boss!" HA HA HA it's soo much fun. let me tell you about the fun..now don't get the wrong idea here, obviously this is a vent forum for me because of all you understanding peeps out there. I am not trying to be negative, just tellin' the plain and simple truth about what it's really like to open your own bakery. OK, so I may shatter a few illusions. GOOD. I have been 100% honest about everything along the way here, so I'll just keep going. Being my own boss means being everyone elses' boss. Duh, I knew that going in ...but thisis my first time as a business owner, with 100,000,000% responsibility. Massive insurance bills, suing those bastards in FLorida and having $14,000 of my money which would have been working capital go down the toilet, taxes, dear God the fucking taxes!!! Oregon makes it extremely hard for small businesses. so when someone doesn't want me to park my car in front of their house because it's "their" spot, well I'll just say some choice words about how I pay WAY,WAY more taxes thank you very much and I should be able to park on the governor's front lawn.... blah blah blah To the naive who say how fun it must be, or gee whiz I'd love to have a little shop. LITTLE??? I say this-- realize that your brain now splits into 2 seperate sides. One side that is so tired and misses having a life/sleep/fun/sex etc.. says, hey maybe I could take off early and go do the above mentioned things. The other side says, but if I send someone else home ,I will save labor and not have to pay this that and the other thing. The labor $$$$ saving side wins every time. Why?? because it makes sense and is neccesary. Sure, the other stuff is too...but when every dollar counts , which it does, it is the priority....any questions?? I love it when people call me 'hard-nosed' all I can say is that I am trying to be smart and and not get screwed over by people like AKVATEK INDUSTRIES. Just a reminder, DO NOT EVER BUY REFRIGERATION FROM THEM!!!!!!!!! you too will be screwed out of LOTS of precious dollars. Yes I am having fun as I go along. You know how wacky chefs are, and how blessedly nasty(I am soo refrainng on this blog) how mischeivous and down-right insane we all are. Gotta love it!!
  21. Here are some very happy accidents that happened this week. While constantly testing the stuff we make to check for yumminess, consistency etc... we (me & the pc's) talk collaboratively about what will make stuff even better. After a mad rush on croissants, we needed more and did a fast thaw and stuck 'em in the proof box. it ended up being at 80 degrees.well, 5 hours later I discovered that those babies had been forgotten and were still in there. looked totally overproofed, but I baked them anyway assuming they would collapse. THEY WERE AMAZING, completely light, crisp buttery flaky and the butter didn't even melt or ooze out. they looked SOO overproofed, anyone would have thought so. now I am tweaking thaw times, proof times (SUX figuring all this stuff out + weather factors) but it has 2 B done. The next thing happened today, once again a big morning rush on breakfast pastries and I was running my ass off pulling scones, biscuits and danish and bear claws. Just earlier this AM we were discussing, why do bear claws made with danish dough end up cakey? all other danish are nice flaky layers..hmmm. I did a 20 minute room temp thaw on them, jammed them in the proof box at 90degrees for only 20 minutes and shoved them in a convection oven. it was an emergency thing, thought well let's see how they turn out!. THEY WERE AMAZING!! crisp, seperate flaky layers, no almond filling ooze out, and they were not cakey. pretty crazy! I took pix of danish with fresh fig & lavender preserves to show they layering. sometime I'll post pix I swear.
  22. aww shucks... thanks. it is really fun to meet more peeps from the hood, and have people meeting there and doing exactly that --anchoring the community. sometimes I look out front and know almost everyone there! BTW, I have 8 tables out front and 2 outside. I also serve lunch- sandwiches, soup, salads, panini which is a big hit. I would say it provides up to 30% of sales especially on weekends. The weekends are great, and slowly building. A lot more whole desserts going out Fri, Sat. I am hitting my target numbers more or less on weekends. mid week it is still a complete crap shoot, never know what biz will be like. sales can be up to 40% off where they need to be mid-week. oddly Tuesdays have been picking up for lunch!
  23. vent vent vent............. deeeeep cleansing breath....stuff buttery croissant into mouth.....................uummmmmm
  24. yeah yeah, I am sure it won't be the only time. I had one food writer say about my stuff once, "This pastry chef thinks she can use cranberries like blueberries" talk about silly. some food writers think they can actually write...
  25. Neil that glazing gun sounds so cool, it would be fun to have a tool belt with all the things we need to spray... a bakery just opened here in Portland that sells nothing but pre-made desserts, and verbally announces that the cakes in the display are just that-- the real ones are frozen in back, just defrost... EEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWW!!! now that is sad. One point of distinction in regard to Brian's point, he IS an artisan who happens to whole-sale. the factory made crap is a different animal altogether. there is no comparison. the topic opens many cans of worms ~ chefs eliminating PCs and having cooks do desserts ~ pre-made instant stuff ~keeping things fresh and sellable ( my new fun challenge) interestingly enough, I sell LOTS of fresh fruit tarts, 9 inch at $28; 4 inch at $4.50 I use a light spray of glaze or toss sturdier fruits in glaze then pile on in a rustic organic fashion. the random looking tarts sell even better than concentric, specifically placed fruit tarts. also-- danish and croissant are making up about 60% of sales right now. what do ya say to that????? not so discouraging as one might think... Brian -my only concern in getting more wholesale accounts, are they using the product within the use by date?? I don't want my stuff rotting in someones fridge and being sold under my name, I am sure this is a concern for you too.
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