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Everything posted by melmck

  1. there is so much i want to say about so many things, but can't yet. it's easy to be passive-aggressive in cyberland. can I yell at people through here? it would save me time... business is picking up, the trends are good so far. it is still very painful financially. a wee bit of fun this weekend with family in town and my cute little nephews running around the bakery, yelling Aunt Mel, stop giving those people cakes and watch me play Pokemon!! Aunt Mel watch!!!!!! as my family sat out front they got to play spy, and hear everyones comments on the bakery, food, etc...all good. I got a very nasty letter in the mail sent by some anonymous wuss chickenshit signed as "Concerned Customer. " telling me to reconsider my baking methods and blah blah blah- complaining about my croissant and danish and saying that across town a very successful bakery sold amazing croissants for $1.95. Well guess what buddy, thats becuz THEY USE FROZEN DOUGH. betcha didn't know that ... however it is good to get kicked in the pants now and then to keep you on track with is it the best it can be?? or to put it another way Goodfellas Henry Hill would say "The way I see it , everyone takes a beating now and then". words to live by. at least it wasn't a review.
  2. I am going to test freezing the cheesecakes unbaked, and pulling the night B4 for next day baking, to keep fresh and yummy. I do this with all my other cake batters xcept sponge, and bake fresh each day, or every other day for certain things. I'll let you know how it turns out.
  3. Wow, I had no idea photos were even taken! Surprise. I actually have photos that i haven't had time to organize. BTW, the plates are all glass. Not acrylic. Here is the good news-- finally a review from the Willamette Week paper: "Spence isn't the only pastry maven to capture the sugary spotlight. In June, Melissa McKinney, Bluehour's former sweets genius, opened Criollo Bakery in Portland's chichi-lite Beaumont district. Unlike Spence's underground cake walk, McKinney's new bake space, with its cool stone floors and rust walls, is a showroom--for the Jaguars and Maseratis of the pastry world. Sexy lush models like the lemon-lacquered Baby Extreme Lemon Teacake ($1.50), glossy fruit tarts and crumbly Apple "Rugelach" Dumplings ($3.25) are parked front and center in lit cases. In fact, you can't even buy coffee in this bakery, though it does offer a lovely, light lunch menu in the afternoon. So on a recent morning visit, we headed through Criollo's French doors to the Java Man Coffee outlet next door to feed our other favorite addiction. After all, for this junkie, caffeine and sugar are the ultimate speedball. " -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Originally published on WEDNESDAY, 8/4/2004 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Not bad for a first review!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. i am smack dab in the middle of danish production, and we have way more problems with fresh yeast, so now i use SAF gold. works better in all my laminates. also i use the danish w/ a sponge recipe from progressivebaker.com make the sponge the night b4.
  5. melmck


    I love berries with passionfruit. I make blackberry tarts w/ passionfruit curd and drape candied citrus over the top.. yum. naturally in the Pac NW we pair it with hazelnuts, apple, pear, quince. any citrus. cranberries. and mango!! it's awesome with tropical fruits.
  6. I grab a clean fryer basket with large grates and throw them in hot out of the oven, swish them around with oven mitts on , over the trashcan and at least 90% comes off.
  7. melmck


    I love lavender with peaches, nectarines, and blue & blackberries. I frequently make syrup infusions because they last, and put lavender in preserves all the time. Also I love it with lemon. sorbet teacakes poundcakes you name it. ( I think rose water and orange water taste more like Jergens than lav.) also honey combos, porkloin, even BBQ sauce! Just becareful if you have sensitive skin and get CONTACT DERMATITIS. It is not fun.
  8. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are spoiled rotten with the bestest berries.. farmer picked early AM, delivered late AM. then when they arrive we shove as many as possible into our mouths and make insane noises. but what else is new! the display case is loaded with various berry treats, now we are moving into stone fruits--the heat wave has brought out all the sugars yumyumyum rrrggghhh aaahhhh see what i mean??
  9. Hi Peeps!! OMG I don't know where to start...I have met a few folks from EG and I always crack up becuz I feel like they've busted me, been reading my diary behind my back. This is not a huge update, as I don' t have time. Just to let you know I am clinging to life. Remember those elephant size balls I claimed I had?? I've been kicked in them repeatedly. (Chrome-dome, I just felt you flinch!) possibly been stampeded by an actual elephant. Duckduck came to see me and it is true about the couch/lack of sleep etc... what is truly fucked up is that I am getting used to the schedule. I really want to kill people when thay say things like, "oh you should take some time for yourself" or "let's get together sometime". BWWAAH-HA-HA that is so funny. NOT. So this being a business owner running a bakery thing is HARD SHIT!!! There is not one easy thing about it. Every day I learn something new about what to do or not do, what works, what doesn't, who doesn't etc... I have to give props to a few people though, my husband for working his ass off here all the time as soon as he's done with his work. Coming in @ 3Am on weekends to help me w/ bread. To my Frenchman- Emmanuel, who is a God of the Doughs and can sheet laminates in his sleep. (while tied up.) I thought this man was a speed freak for a while, only to learn that he is so,so fast and really, really good. He makes my life much easier. THANK YOU!!! Oh, how could I possibly forget this very important bit of info. DO NOT EVER BUY ANYTHING FROM AKVATEK INDUSTRIES IN MIAMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!They ripped me off for $7,000 and now I have even bigger legal fees because of those bastards. That's right, on top of opening a business I am in litigation with them. Good times. people, good times.
  10. Hi! Sorry for the lapse, trying to open a goddamn bakery here...you must all be bored now and feeling neglected. oh well. I WISH I was bored. oh to be bored, and watch garbage on TV just look at one spot on the ceiling for about 4 hours. while on Demerol.. I am exhausted, stressed out and running on adrenalin at 100mph. I bounce between being excited and terrified, freaking out completely. Normally I am cool, calm and collected, especially under fire in a busy restaurant. but this time it's different. it's all me, and it's fricken huge. No, I am not starting some teensy little shop, this baby is 2750sq.ft. oh the things I have learned this last year. I'm sure the next will be quite a ride. I guess the anticipation factor is what makes me nauseous. not knowing, what will opening day be like? will I hit my numbers? will I surpass them and be soo busy, let's hope so, and pay back this loan. All my big equipment has arrived and instead of being so excited, well a little, stainless steel makes me all tingly inside, I think HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO PAY FOR THIS!! Why did I spend all this money? What the fuck was I thinking? Please, just let Criollo Bakery be a smash success and have money rolling in ka-ching ka-ching then I won't even care. There are many people who I curse as I go along these days. Thinking about all of the people who have jerked me around, who are full of shit, there are so many tales to tell about being a business owner, and I haven't even opened the doors yet. I want those reviews to be flawless, the ultimate way to get back at the ones I curse. without saying a word. HA !
  11. I have been doing interviews like a MOFO, have 90% of my hiring done. The kitchen, once a disgusting hellhole is now clean & pristeen, with shiny new stuff everywhere. Since this is my kitchen, and I will be producing in it, I wanted the tools to make my life easier. There are some shiny new toys in there, a Moffat convection oven, Viking mixer and lots of measuring devices and scales. I like having all of my ingredients laid out before me, instead of washing out that one measuring pitcher over and over. Like so many cheap ass places I've been before. I hope you all know that Coscto has the best price in the world on Metro racks . needless to say I have had less time to write and little inspiration. I am 3 weeks away from opening. !!!!! that feels like tomorrow for me. I am so busy I do not have time to think feel absorb, Eye Of The Tiger, baby just keep pushin to get these doors open and bring in some cash to pay for all of this!!!!!
  12. yes, indeed, I am driven and maniacal about my bakery. So is hubby. it's a permanent adrenaline rush, a Saturday night with 250,000 covers --every day. It is crazy hard work, and I have new-found respect for business owners on so many levels. When you are an employee, you have blinders on and just want a little recognition for hard work and an occasional 50 cent raise that never comes. Of course if greedy owners didn't take from the top right away, maybe it would... Marital stress ? naturally ! it's like getting-married-stress + buying-a-house stress all rolled in to one. We do laugh a lot, frequently from insanity and inhaling way too much adhesive, caulk, sealant, paint, oils, thinners. We put up FRP panels today, what a fucking pain that is. And while I'm holding the gooky stuff up, it slips, slashes my palm open and quickly combines adhesive and blood. The exterior was painted this weekend, I did not do this myself, although I had planned to. I can't break my arms off before I have to frost cakes! Instead of a hideous salmon color, the building is now glossy chocolate brown . it is my husbands birthday today, and the poor guy has a cold and is working his ass off in the bakery. So I finally said, FUCK IT, let's quit and knock off early. which we did and I promptly took a nap with my pup laying over my legs. I desparately need a spa day. (or a serious trip to Breitenbush for you NW folk.) I will do this B4 I open. A friend of mine just opened a restaurant 2 weeks ago, we call each other and just sort of groan across the line.. We don't need to say a word. Unspoken language of the crazy chefs. It's like doin' time together.
  13. Dumb-assery: here's the fun and stupid things I did today. One is so stupid I can't even type it, and is my old man ever pissed. I don't have time to even stop and eat any more. I've lost 10 # since starting the bakery renovations, and am getting buff and tight.(underneath the rest of the fat, that is) so when you are tired and weak from hunger, you typically become a dumbass. so this Ukrainian guy is painting outside, it's hot out, he doesn't understand a word of English.I'm trying to make him understand I need the exterior lights spray painted. Nope, nothing is sinking in. so I jump up on his ladder and we have a strange awkward roof. I proceed to dangle my body precariously out over the building in order to spray. a nail that is sticking up jabs me in the liver.(well, practically) at this point all contents of my overstuffed pockets which are always full of tools, go tumbling out` . I finish up, then have to get up a really tall rickety ladder and balance on one toe while unscrewing bulbs and sprayin. Later, when we are exhausted I can't find my keys. Where are the keys? I recall something on the roof going clinkety clink. The guy with the ladder is gone, my husband is looking at me like I am the biggest idiot he's ever come across. I feel like one, too. Yep, I left my keys ON THE ROOF...
  14. I am taking digi pics but haven't time to organize yet. Programmer husband is doing the website, and supposed to do a signature for me too. It's on his list of 350,000 things to do besides work all day at his job, work all night at the bakery, take care of 2 big dogs. Sheesh! we'll get all our shit together soon, dear readers. :) Mel
  15. Okay, Chrome-dome I just about pissed myself laughing there. I needed a laugh. Yesterday was a really REALLY bad day. I wanted to kill everyone in sight and the whole day was a disastrous, expensive nightmare. Skyrocketing costs are seriously pissing me off. I felt like I got kicked square in those metaphorical balls! by twelve people! at once! with steel-toe boots! today was fine, peachykeen. I had a great day. No one said "you will develop manic-depression as a business owner!" it's, as they say- whack. lots of interviews going down in between coats of paint, chasing down the mail carrier becuz they shove my mail under the door then run away, instead of handing it to me and just maybe seeing if I have outgoing mail. Bastards! I will go postal. HA HA. I met some people who have been reading this, weird. it's all so cerebral when there are just words to read, but meeting someone felt like I got busted or something. brain just fried. blew a fuse like all of my stupid electric boxes have been doing all day.
  16. rest assured mon amis, although I gripe about my precious dollars and cents, I am indeed taking my time in opening. I want everything in it's place and done correctly, and am paying rent already in order to do so. It really killed me cutting that rent check knowing that I should be the one getting paid for turning an old piece of crap into a spotless, sleek, well-designed and gorgeous new bakery. Oh well. I know she will pay off. Damn you working capital!! Damn you! One thing I am not too worried about is a ramp-up period, this baby is going to hit the ground running. This shit is definitely scary. It takes elaphantitis-sized balls. Luckily, I possess such balls. okay, 10 million things to do today, gotta blow. ;) MEL
  17. one of these days when life is not soo crazy, I will tell the stories that go along with my history. very juicy, very gnarly, the kind of stuff you don't want Mom to read about on EG.
  18. Did I say sleep? Cuz I meant work, fingers to bone. Read previous threads, peeps, so I don't have to keep retyping this, Criollo Bakery 4727 NE Fremont Portland, OR 97213 I have been very insanely busy with little time to pop in here and write. I have 10 interviews lined up within 3 days. A stack of resumes 3" thick to go through. Stupid fricken merchant services bastards to fight off. Vultures swarming above to separate me from my dwindling money. Did you know hou have to pay a fee every year just to run a bakery? What the hell, let's make up some more fees, taxes and dues. I have been painting, staining;oiling my tabletops that just came back looking like new. Except the big one, (4'X12') got stuck in the planer when it hit metal. A washer embedded in the wood. Whoops. So now that will cost more too. Here's a major gripe, vendors/vultures who assume that because you are a new business owner, that you are stupid and gullible. I have become exceedingly curt and bitchy to people who are wasting my time right now. I even had to hang up on someone who was yelling at me for not accepting their merchant service! Also really weird dudes who drop by selling this cleanser or that. and soft drink machines if you'll only be so proud to carry this water flavored with corn syrup, color and artficial flavor!!! Oh yeah, that's what I'm all about.(I am a staunch micro-brewed root beer fanatic...ummm...rooot beeer) A few days ago I still felt fine about my time line, now it feels like an insane push to make it happen. Lots of threads runnin' around the old duder's head. The thing that keeps me happy and positive is how much support I've received from the 'hood, even though they haven't even seen what I am going to wow them with. Just goes to show how desperately this area needs my bakery. I am almost scared that it will not just be really busy and hectic, duh, but can't-keep-up busy.. This is actually my fantasy. That and a line out the door with people trampling each other to get to my goods. Let the pastry riot begin! PS- accountant is new best friend, worship him!
  19. Yes, whenever I give friends the grand tour, they say Woman, YOU ARE INSANE, or girl, YOU CRAZY!!!! and then I say that I am not afraid. I have always jumped into big projects, in the past without thinking through, but this is one very weel thought-out project. One year of planning everyday, running those numbers back and forth. I am a former math failure, never even made it past 2nd year algebra in high school. But I know kitchen math off the top of my head. I can eyeball filling for 500 tarts. I now know every single stinkin' document the SBA and business plan books has to throw at me. Sheesh! I have my husband double-check me, he's a very smart man, self taught computer programmer as I am a self-taught pastry chef. Or learned on the job, in the lion's den, as some would put it. So he is my back-up. (He is also an incredible cook, baker etc...he will probably work his full day then run down the street to the bakery to help turn doughs and shape.) Like now, he works his job and we slave away getting the bakery ready until night falls The last few days were BRUTAL. Physically brutal, lots of overhead painting, and crawling into disgusting weird places, like on top of the ovens where no person has gone before...until now. It's a bitch when you have to sand old dough off the walls and ceiling! POWER SANDER!!! Me and my power tools, and my trusty 18v driver. I must admit it makes me look and feel TUFF. That's right, TUFF. Actually I look like serious trash, my pants ripped, I safety-pinned them together, and duct-taped them. (Iggy Pop approves here,), when I lay down on dirty surfaces, my tits are the first thing to land in the dirt. I get up and have two very dirty circles on my shirt. Then I go out to run errands and people must be thinking I am spare-changing them! Maybe I should... Yesterday we borrowed a friends truck, the world's scariest truck with no brakes and the steering's shot. We then loaded 4 humongous maple table tops in to the back, this took 6 strong dudes, and one TUFF chick. the tables are 2in thick, 3 and 4 ft. wide by 10-12 ft. long. Ver heavy, arm-breaking bastards. Off in the truck, hoping we don't kill anyone on the way. It is also 85 degrees. unheard of for April in Portland!! we make it out alive. whupped exhausted annhilated, sweaty. Looking and feeling real purty. Go home and make buffalo burgers and Spud Puppies. ( world's best organic tater tots)boo-yah! OK< as far as the biz plan. I did all of the research myself from the library, Internet, and SBA resource library, which has books on how to open any type of business under the sun. A lot out there is geared to the tech industry, I applied what needed to be done relating to food service. I will say, making sales projections when you have nothing to base them on is hard. It was a huge challenge, so I stayed on the conservative side of what I thought I would do S-Sat, Jan-Dec. Luckily I worked at a very successful restaurant/bakery very close by, with similar demographics, so know what kind of volume can be done around here. Also your state or city's home page has links for business information, including start-ups. If you are thinking SBA, you must be diligent and thourough with research. KNOW what the hell you are doing. The actual license is no big deal, $100 bucks and a form to fill out. Legal fees for legitimately setting up Articles of Organization, Operating Agreement etc cost about $1500. Anyone who says "Oh you should open a bakery" to a non-professional should be slapped immediately! Just kidding, but it isn't some cutesey little shop where you bake happy cookies all day long. It is incredibly hard work, which I hope will pay off eventually. I have a great location, years of experience in all but owning my own place. I will be working 7 days pre-sun-up til beyond sun-down. My nose is killing me from breathing all the Hanta virus filled dust and grime of yesteryears. The inside is torn apart and I am completely stuffed up. My arms are killing me. Open a bakery, it's real fucking cute.
  20. Yesterday we found a 50 year old petrified dead rat in the floors we had torn up for plumbing. He still had his death-grip claws. It was morbidly fascinating! Painting the kitchen, WOW what a difference from dingy dirty greyish blah to creamy creme anglaise. (that's what it looks like!) pretty glossy so it washes well. Let me tell you all something that pertains to anyone out there opening a bakery/cafe/restaurant etc. The sales people who sell you all the big equipment, never tell you things like, you need a dedicated 220v circuit for this as well as a floor drain, or you need to go through three phases of permits and inspections before you can proceed...you'll need another $5,000 worth of specified hand sinks per square feet, one for each area etc etc. I really thought I had done my homework/research on all this stuff. buut NOOOOOOO, you forgot this and this. My fun toys are arriving now, panini grill ( Emerald City Equipment in Seattle has the best prices on Italian made) dishes, slicer, juicer, and I am spending thousands on a daily basis. It is fun but terrifying! I got my first blurb in the paper about my new project. Now I feel really BUSY!!!!! Anyone out there in Portland, I'm hiring!!!! MEL
  21. Definitely dog biscuits-- I have a Newfoundland mix, and a Yellow Lab. They also love pate, gravlax and whipped cream! Today's fun chore was to shop vac out the interior guts of my revolving oven. We are talking about 6" thick carbon black. Which is now up my nose! Me and my shop vac, having a grand old time. I was so filthy and my husband said when I got home, baby, YOU STINK!!! So far, I haven't had any serious dilemmas or traumas. YET. Of course costs are going through the roof, and an additional $3K plumbing bill barely phased me. Some other interesting news, the closest bakery to my location, just closed. Not for lack of customer interest, but management issues. So this means I am the only bakery in this area! All those customers will be mine , ALL MINE!!!! Maybe their employees too. I have a very good feeling about a strong start, and staying very busy. Let's hope so. As I get closer you will all be a part of it. All of the vultures have been circling-- vendors and purveyors of crap I don't want. And banks have been calling about merchant services every 5 minutes. Until the next time
  22. Here are some other fun things I've been up to. Scrubbing greasy donut racks in the cold rain without a jacket, forgot it , whoops, hands destroyed by chemical degreasers(even with gloves, it seeps down...) and daily back pain from being hunched over the sinks. It is, however, fun to show this place off when friends come by. It is a maze of rooms, all with more pans & racks than you've ever experienced. Come by to see me? Leave with 10 blackened sheetpans! My chef friends are digging it, and we all know the got-you-covered deals are the best. Now, what do I do, what do I make? What is my style? people always ask me, what's your favorite thing to make, and I have to say in what category of what ethnicity? Or "Signature Items". well, I don't beleive in creating signature items, and giving them stupid-ass names and titles like the French do. It's not my bag, baby. I think signature items fall in to place after your customers demand them. It's definitely just my opinion, and everyone else can do whatever they want. I think it is really dorky. That's right, dorky! I also do not like to completely imitate and copy what everyone else in the world is doing. Remember the tall-food bandwagon? It crashed.The quality of my products are not validated by whether it looks exactly like Laduree or Fauchon. Yes, they are beautiful. I prefer a more simple and organic style, similar to Emily Luchetti. Smooth, clean lines.Her books were my bibles when I was self-training. I also dislike the hyper-apricot glaze-lacquer look. YUCK!I prefer to mist it with an approriate glaze. I HATE DOILIES!!!! NO doilies, EVER! I also hate mint on a non-mint compatible dessert.I know some very high-end patisseries make use of canned fruit. I won't name names. This is a ghastly crime in my eyes. I also take umbrage to articial food coloring. I know people will come into my bakery, and want neon Wilton roses, well, it just ain't gonna happen. However I have tons of other lovely selections...step this way... It is fun to know that I have free reign to make whatever I want , whenever I want. And the retail factor means re-creation as well. Endless possibilities. I suppose you may surmise that I am not traditional. Unconventional. Dude. DUDE! here are some things I will be producing, ranging from rustic to high-fallutin' patisserie organic naturally leavened breads laminated doughs breakfast pastries cookies, including organic options and many varieties cakes ( many varieties and styles, including special occasion cakes and wedding cakes) pies tarts tortes cheesecakes (I was never allowed in fine dining to make them, too pedestrian they'd say. I don't know what the hell you snobs out there have against cream cheese!) savory pastries, quiche seriously gourmet doughnuts ( all fresh made doughs, fillings, glazes, ganache and toppings, and unusual shapes too, why not?) some vegan options bags of crackers, spiced & candied nuts, dog biscuits, croutons, etc... lots of individual desserts lunch-soups, salads, sandwiches and panini on my bread candlelight desserts on Friday and Saturday night. and much, much more... Did I mention I am doing much of the pre-opening by myself, along with my husband and occasional friends? I am my own contractor. I can't afford one. I purchase and price check down to a nickle. I run all over town to get the best deals. I am a hard-ass on prices. Throw in the undercoat for free please. and would it kill you to give me some tee-shirts, pens, tote bags and hats? It is really interesting to cross over to the ownership side. When you are an employee, all you want is that recognition of your hard work and an occasional raise. You beg for 50 cents. Give blood, sweat, and tears for 50 fricken cents. It rarely comes. Now and can look back at how aggressive I was, insisting on that raise I never got,while never truly understanding the owner's position. So quit wasting those aprons and side towels. Don't BURN ANYTHING. Free drinks from the bartender, yeah we love it, but the bartender is throwing your raise down your gullet. (This may be good enough for some of you...) Packaging is a big one. On the flip side, many bosses never explain all this. If you realize what things actually cost, and what your role in the cycle is, you won't cut through that Silpat or hide the burnt almonds in the bottom of the trashcan.You won't have to, and You MIGHT get a raise. it's not just stuff. not just ingredients, have respect for everything you are handling. I certainly hope to instill this in all of my employees, if they don't get it, they probably won't last too long. I hope this makes sense to you all. I am digging the support here. It is truly helpful! Mel
  23. Chrissakes, don't miss the Sopranos on account of me!. You've got to love Steve Buscemi... Okay, so after seriously looking at the numbers, and me saying a lot of oh, shit how the hell am I going to do this? I took the plunge.I had the equipment checked out to see if it all worked, some didn't, so bag that. The good stuff ,I suppose, outweighs the bad. It is one of those things that I am positive will pay off in the end. However, it is very hard to see that right now. But I have to keep focused, can you tell I am tired and just a wee bit pissy and would really like to slander every MOFO who has crossed my path today? I could dish out so much right now. I will bite my typewritin' fingers and proceed w/ story. It is so weird, you have the 'thing for the day/week' whatever-- to be stressed about, and once you jump that hurdle you totally forget about it. I move on to new disgusting, greasy black never- been- cleaned challenges. So now comes lease negotiation. This is not fun. Legal hassels that last over a week, and cost $215 an hour, and general opening- a- bakery- stress-syndrome. Well, when it's your first time with all of this, the OABSS is magnified 1,000,000,000 times. After lots of lease wrangling, we finally get to the signing, and I have to meet a whole table full of lawyers. SCARY !! My husband and I were shitting bricks in the Twilight Zone. It is very surreal, the whole thing is surreal. It feels like my job is to clean this bakery, maybe one of these days I will make something and EAT IT. So we bust a move and start throwing away everything that is hideous, decor circa 1979. Orange linoleum, everything made of particle board. shop lights. Can you picture it? It is important to have vision. For you, to help feel my pain, for me, to put an end to it. When I am done with this bad girl, she will be beautiful. Now for some fun parts... New lighting for up front- mini-track wave bars, good prices. Copper color Pendants in the windows/above the table. Caramel colored walls inside, chocolate color outside. New awnings, plants, outdoor tables. The floor is being ripped out Monday, replacing with slate and commercial Marmoleum. A beautiful new refrig. display case, the Sweet Sofia LX, I am refinishing 2 dry cases. Hanging bread baskets on the walls. Madrone butcherblock countertops and tabletops. Everything should feel warm, cozy, and like you want to stay there sipping hot chocolate and eating pastries all day...crinkly copper fabric to hide things that need hiding. (by the way, you folk back east- Madrone is a hardwood native to the Pacific Northwest.It is beautiful, harder than oak, with warm reds browns gold colors brought out by oiling.also sustainably grown/harvested.) originally my budget called for cabinetry / carpenters to build a really cool display. One of the many parts of the budget that was slashed repeatedly. So I am off to Costco to pick up Metro racks, and I will mount Madrone on top of them . The bathroom is being updated to become ADA compliant. I need a new hood system updated to today's standards, not 1985. Everything need fixing, patching, cleaning with hardcore degreaser and wire brushes, then painting. Good times, people...good times. Oddly enough, bakeries get inspected by the Department of Agriculture, not the Health Dept. But since I come from that background I abide by them. For the most part. I have to say I am getting to know everything in there intimately, whether I want to or not!!! I am not one of those Prima Donna Pastry Chefs who keeps a nice white coat. I get down and dirty, you should have seen me today, not pretty. Here's the other part of not pretty- I barely have time to do a load of laundry, much less make dinner, clean the house. The yard is a jungle. Cupboards bare. Doggies lonely. My hair and skin need serious salon time. I need a massage so bad, as my hands and arms are busting off. OFF!! All of my clothes are now work clothes paint clothes chef clothes. Yet here I am typing this you addictive bastard of a pastry forum! I think next time, when I am in a better mood, I will tell you what I do, what I like, what I will be making. (Any damn thing I want it's MY BAKERY!) No soup for you!!!
  24. Crikey! Lots of questions to answer, so I'll have to cram in as much info as I can. But I will back up and pick up the story. You know, I am trying to keep it clean, even though my heart and the language that comes out of my mouth is far more Bourdain-esque. So I am cruising along here in Portland, Oregon, and the job scene in 1999 is rough for top positions, such as sous-chef and pastry chef. A new restaurant is opening, called bluehour. (I haven't really been naming names throughout this- out of paranoia) but I loved it there, even though I had to take an Assistant pastry chef job just to get in the door. I knew the place would rock, and it did, right from the start. It was odd, because I was an hourly employee again, after years of management, I had to swallow A LOT of pride. However, it was an interesting lesson- getting back in touch with cooks on their level, bitching, moaning and grumbling, and encouraging them to ACTUALLY COMMUNICATE their feelings instead of the usual walk-in fridge scream fests we all know and love. It makes you a better manager to truly see both sides. It is a fun job, I work my ass off and know that at some point I will be the head PC. One year later, it happens, and I finally get my chance to shine. I had the best position in the place, because I had ultimate freedom and change my menu all the time. I delve into cheeses more and more, and bring the art of the cheese plate to a higher level in Portland. (I plan on continuing this at the bakery, with cheese plates and Ploughman's plates) September 11. Changes our industry dramatically. I can picture the chefs in Windows on the World, saying oh Goddamnit, my cakes aren't done baking, or I've been working on this fucking pate for three days and you want me to leave the building? Not a chance, Lance........fine dining in Portland takes a big hit, as does the restaurant, and one day after working many long hours, the bosses can me. Lay me off. Effective immediately. OUCH.It is devastating and completely unexpected. Moment of silence............... denial anger acceptance blah blah blah, I realize I now have time to do everything else in life that never gets done. Fixing up the house, yard, spend time with husband, dogs, friends. I have the summer off. Pretty cool! I have Christmas off ! Woo-hoo! Meanwhile the ole man says, uh, are you gonna get a job or something? and I say Oh SHIT, yeah I guess so. I probably better stop working for other people who keep screwing me over and never actually do a damn thing for me. I could elaborate on so many levels, but Anthony Bourdain would probably say, quit spilling your shit for free, girl and get a book deal! So now my future and my success are up to me. If I am ever going to make more than $35K, I have to open my own place. I throw my ass into high gear and research writing business plans like crazy. (Internet & library) This forces you to learn every number backwards forwards until you dream about cash flow sheets. I dream of pluses.+++ It is not easy, once you find new info or a new number, you have to change everything all across the board. This is why Excel spreadsheets are key. Automatic math! I also start researching Grants for women-owned businesses, Community development funds, SBA loans, private loans etc. Well, here's the bitch slap. THERE ISN"T ANY HELP FOR FIRST TIME FOOD SERVICE START-UPS. You have to have your own money, 30%, family money, lottery money or investors. NONONO is all I hear. I slash my budget over and over to reduce costs. While i am scratching and clawing for $$$$$, the location that I have wanted for 10 years becomes available because the former tenant is a @#$%^ *& @$$. He gets evicted, and the whole thing is trapped in a legal time warp. ( Hey, loser-dude, if you are out there I want to seriously kick you square in the nuts for the way you left that place!)I can't even find out what the kitchen is like, I know it's huge. This place is right down the street from me, in my hood, the street is reviving itself with new restaurants that are doing great, it is perfect demographically, I WANT IT. Now I also want the money to do it with. (I also researched every single piece of equipment I would need. Do your homework, shop used except on refrigeration. ) I am stressing big time, how the hell am I going to do this? Can I pull this off? What if I actually can't score the dough? I am very aggressive with the SBA lenders, and do whatever it takes to prove that this is doable, the area needs it, and my numbers are conservative, not unrealistic. I actually think I will do better, but it pays to be conservative to start, and lenders will know if you are talking out your @$$. Mine made me prove it- had me call every similar bakery to mine to get their numbers to prove it. Half of the people told me to fuck right off, and the others were so helpful, because they too had gone through what I am. Man, I love these people. Strangers on the phone who hear your stress, fear, desperation with every breath you take. Here's the part where I needed huge balls. I find a bank that will take 20% instead of 30% of your own money down. I refinance the house, and get another equity loan for my portion. I am waiting for that money to come. I am waiting to find out if I will be the next tenant in my dream location. (it also has 2 parking lots flanking it, tons of foot traffic, and a bus stop in front) I finally get the loan approved, and here I am taking out an equity loan, getting an SBA loan, which is a bitch to get, and it is all hingeing on this one location. I know this is a horrible stupid risk. There is nothing else out there. My husband is freaking out, this puts us in the biggest risk ever, we could lose everything. But I KNOW I am going to get it. I have strong intuition. This doesn't help him though. STRESS!! Nothing like financial stress to make your skin break out and hair turn grey. And no sleep either. I got the loan approved in December, and just last week did I get my money. In February, the legal stuff is finally ending for the landlord. He loves my business plan, it is tight. I know I am the top contender. There is going to be a liquidation auction on the contents. The list of contents is posted, and I am blown away by how much stuff is in there. Now I really have to have it. I go to another auction to learn and see how it's done. Pretty cool, you have to be assertive and know what stuff is worth. I buy a couple of things that were steals. I feel soo cool. I am so nervous the day of the auction. I want to puke, because if I can't buy the equipment if I don't get the lease. I can't get the lease if I don't buy the equipment. This is my one shot, I am ready and prepared to bid on certain items. I go in, get the tour for the first time. That's right , I want this place and I've never seen the kitchen. THis is crazy! I just know it's huge, has lots of stuff in it. As soon as the auction is to start, this lawyer comes out and says, things have changed this is now going to be a straight sale instread of a piecemeal thing. I am not prepared for this. OH CRAP! Now what? I take the tour of the kitchen, and am giddy and freaking out because this baby is even bigger than I imagined. It keeps going and going. Walk in freezer walk in fridge 20 pan oven sheeter walk-inproof box, 80qt mixer w/ all attachments & hydraulic lift.20 qt mixer big office loading dock tons of storage, 25 pan racks. thousands of pans. huge sinks. huge maple tables. WOW. most people leave when they hear the pricetag. I sit and talk with the landlord, who says yes you can have the location, you have first rights to it. I don't think that I can afford it, it is way over budget, but the space is beyond perfect in many ways. I could grow my business 10 different ways for years, and not have to move. the kitchen is 1775 square feet. 1000 upfront for retail. I figure, if I slash this this and this, OK. I have to find a way to make it work . HAVE TO. I am beyond desperate. also beyond bedtime, so tune in next time...more info to come! MEL
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