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Everything posted by ohmyganache

  1. Okay okay, I’m sorry I haven’t written in a little while. My mother kind of got on me about it, so here I am again! This last weekend was busy, with three days of craft fairs. We didn’t do so badly the first two days, although Sunday wasn’t the best. We had a lot of stuff left over, but got our name out there a little more, we got two cake orders, and we got some more names on the mailing list. The gingersnap cookie sandwiches were a huge success. We filled them with vanilla buttercream and rolled the edges in raw sugar, and people were really digging them. The pumpkin cupcakes with brown butter icing were a smash as well. The brown butter was key… it tasted so good! The carrot cupcakes didn’t sell as well as I expected, but the people who ate them were totally into them. The thanksgiving orders are coming in now. We’ve got quite a few pies, cupcake, and gingersnap cookie sandwich orders. This should be fun… haha. Some really good news though… we talked with a very nice Italian family on Monday about renting the kitchen in their restaurant. We were introduced through a woman at the networking organization we’ve joined. To make a long story short, they liked us and they’re interested in letting us use their place. We’d work when they’re not there, which means odd hours for us, but that’s okay. They were super-impressed by the fact that we had just spent quite a few weeks in Italy recently, particularly that we spent a week in Sicily (where they’re from). I even tried to speak a little Italian to them! The matriarch of the family, Rosa, who is also the chef speaks no English and cooks virtually everything! If this works out, we can’t wait to eat her food. The kitchen is big, new, and super clean and seems like a great fit for us. We even talked to them about selling cakes to them for the restaurant (they currently get overpriced, mass-produced cakes from out of town), and even selling our stuff in the front. The location is also great, because it’s in a very upscale shopping strip in East Vineland (the nice part of Vineland). And there is even an upstairs that they don’t use, where we can store our stuff and set up a little office. It seems like a win-win situation for everyone, so we’re pretty excited… I’m going to attach some pictures now, enjoy. And we’ll talk to you soon. Our booth in Woodstown Pumpkin cupcake with brown butter icing... check out the little bits of caramelized milk solids... yum. Dora the Explorer cake... haha Our booth in Franklinville Our booth in Franklinville The gingersnap cookie sandwiches
  2. Hello again. Things are moving along alright here. We spoke with a guy last week about renting his kitchen out. It's kind of in a funny location... it's in a convienience store/gas station that used to be an Italian restaurant. So basically it's got a decently sized kitchen, prep area, dishwashing area, and dry storage area that is not being used to it's full potential. They make subs about of it now, and are trying to expand into catering. He seemed quite interested when we spoke, but he hasn't called back so we're going to stop by tomorrow. We'll see what happens. We got a good lead on an ex-bakery in Millville. It's got a pretty hot location, has been empty for a few months, full of equipment. I e-mailed the director of the development center in Milleville, and she gave me all the info I wanted... back-story, as well as a name and number. I spoke with the guys assistant this afternoon, she took my number. I met a woman who owns a candle shop in Millville, and also sells locally made food products. She's willing to sell some of our stuff. Apple butter, for the moment... but we're going to start doing some canned and bagged items to wholesale out. Peanut brittle, hot fudge sauce, brandy balls, etc... And actually, her best friend is opening a sweet shop next door, and will be selling retro candies, and other sweets. We got her number as well. It also looks like we're going to be teaching cooking classes as well. When we had the booth in Newfield, the owner of the Newfield Borough building offered to host the cooking classes (I think I mentioned this already). Well we did a business plan for it, and we're meeting Frank Monday morning to hammer out the final details. Hopefully, we'll have our first class on the 10th of November... the theme? Apples of course. We went to a farm today that has tons of fruit in season throughout the year. Berries, stone fruits, grapes, pumpkins, apples, etc... Very cool. Pick your own or wholesale, they also have a little stand that they sell retail. They also have cider (it's pretty good, but a little sweet) and apple cider doughnuts. Quite tasty... We'll be visiting them again when they open up next summer. The orders are trickling in still. An assorted pastry order tomorrow, chocolate cake on Saturday, a few dozen cupcakes on Sunday. It's moving... we just need to find a spot where people can come in and visit us! We also filled out an application for the Food Networks 'Next Food Network Star' thingy... We made a video, filled out the ap, and crossed our fingers. I taped, and Jill talked about herself and local apples, while she made an apple pie. It was cool. We'll see what happens... Jill's testing some gingersnap cookies now, so I'm going to run... she wants to type her notes up. Bye!
  3. Hello NYC eGulleteers! My wife and I will be coming up to NYC from south jersey for the food show in November. What are the best neighborhood bakeries? We were fortunate to have lived in Paris for a month this past summer, and we loved the little off-the-beaten-path places. The big boys (Fauchon, Pierre Herme) were nice, but... Where should we go? We like simple stuff done well... california style perhaps. Thanks in advance! -S&J
  4. We've been to Philly a few times in the last couple of days. We went on Monday to look at equipment, both large and small. We went to see prices, meet people, and grab a few small things. The first guy we met was a property manager for this huge company. They get all sorts of random equipment when they aquire or close a property. So he has a few low-boys, some ovens, a three-compartment sink, and walk in freezer. It's all pretty beat up, which makes me a little suspicious with the refrigeration... But he comes across all different stuff, so we're going to stay in touch with him. The second guy we go to see, has some random equipment. A nice little four foot pastry display case in particular, but we picked up a small stainless table, a speed rack, and a storage rack. By the way, we found this stuff on craiglist... We went back to Philly today to see some friends. We went to RTM, of course, and stopped by Flying Monkey Patisserie. Very cute, nice set up, tasty cupcakes and cookies. We introduced ourselves to the owner/pastry chef, Rebecca. She was very nice, but kinda freaked us out when she said she thinks she'd heard of us... a couple moving from San Francisco to open a bakery! Weird. She told us to e-mail her, so I'm sure we're going to keep in touch... We also drove through Northern Liberties, and walked around for a bit. We spoke with a young woman from The Food Trust at a little farmers market they had there. The organization sounded great, and they're looking for bakeries for thier farmers markets, so we're going to look into that a little more. We've gotten some more cake orders, and the calls are starting to trickle in. The website is still not up, so I nicely asked Jill's brother to give me the relevant info so I could do it myself. So hopefully, we'll be up in a few days. A few people have mentioned that the website is not up.
  5. Hello again... And for this weeks update! We just got back a little while ago from the Bellview Winery Italian Festival. We had a good weekend in terms of money made, but... we made way too much tiramisu. Bummer! We simply thought we'd sell more. The past month, we've seen tons of roadside signs advertising the festival. There was a huge article about it in the local newspaper on Thursday. The winery is a favorite in the area. And there is a lot of Italian pride in these parts! There were several problems. Firstly, we did not give out samples most of the first day. We usually do, and they're a big hit. But we didn't because we didn't have tasting spoons (couldn't find any locally and thought about it too late to order online). We also didn't want to give out samples using our serving spoons because they were too big, and we didn't have too many extra. Well, everyone that tried them said they were amazing. And not to toot our own horn or anything, but they were pretty damn good. But since the only people that tried them ordered a whole one... Secondly, I don't think people were digging dessert too much. The gelato place two booths away didn't do that well either. Nor did the cookie lady. It seemed to me that most everyone was drinking wine and eating food. You can't really drink wine and eat desserts. They just don't go that well together. Thirdly, we had two popular food booths on either side of us that had enormous lines. And while that potentially exposed us to a lot of people, it basically blocked our booth from any sort of visibility. People were thinking about what to order while they were waiting in line, not 'I should check out that Tiramisu booth when I'm done with my food.' So, we walked around the tables selling the tiramisu. We sold quite a few this way. It was good. One of the other vendors told me that he kept checking out our booth and couldn't impagine why there wasn't a line there... and then he ordered six to take home. We got some really nice compliments... but at the end of the day, we had about 150 left over. That sucked. Today... We bought a few handfulls of tasting spoons from the gelato people. They had some problems with thier freezer getting stuck in the dirt when setting up the first day. We helped them out them, so they were happy to pay us back by exchanging several hundred tasting spoons for a tiramisu. And although there were less people today, we sold significantly more tiramisu. We gave out samples, the lines weren't as bad around the table, and we made a decent amount of money. But we still didn't sell as many as we planned... so I think in addition to all the other problems, we just plain old estimates too high. That's how you learn!!! So we have a charity event this coming Saturday that we're going to (hopefully) use up a lot of the tiramisu. I say hopefully because we slapped them in the freezer, and hopefully they'll be fine. I think they will. I've frozen tiramisu plenty of times without ill effect, but never this particular one which Jill and I perfected this week. In other news... I found the printer that was mentioned last week, at BJ's, with a $70.00 rebate (or some similar number). I think we're going to pick it up tomorrow. We're also going into Philly to look at some used restaurant equipment. Two places that sound like they have some promising leads... What else... We sent out our first e-mail to our mailing list. It basically said thank you for your interest, we're going to be at bellview this weekend, and here's the final copy of the first menu. Well we got a hit! A woman we had met at Woodstown ordered a dozen cookies and two dozen brandy balls. She picked them up today at the festival. (Also from the woodstown festival, a woman e-mailed asking about cakes. Her mother-in-law suggested us to her. Thank you mystery mother-in-law!). We also did a pirate themed childrens cake. We seem to be doing a good majority of childrens cakes, and it's worked out quite well when they give us an idea, and we do a fun design on the theme (instead of exact reproductions of something...) So Jill went to the library and checked out a few childrens books for inspiration. You know, books high on visuals and low on elaboration. She decided on a treasure map. It was nice, and our customer loved it... even gave us an extra five dollars. It turned out that they gave little treasure maps to the kids for a scavenger hunt! Okay, I think that's it for now! Thanks... The tiramisu in individual cups with the potato starch spoons. Which, by the way, were a big big hit. When someone bought a tiramisu, as we gave it to them along with a napkin and spoon, we asked them to return the aluminum cup to us for recycling (we had a little recycling can on the table, and everyone who brought them back said how great they were. That was usually in the presence of someone we were talking to, which was great!). And most everyone commented on how neat the biodegradable spoons were. So I thought about how cool that is, from a marketing standpoint. The people that cared returned the cups and ate from the spoons feeling good about doing something (no matter how small and seemingly insignificant) and that made them feel good. And I'm happy anytime someone else has a 'happy moment' that is associated with our bakery. And call me wierd, but I could genuinely tell that those people who did return their cups really cared. And it's funny, because I read something interesting last night (after thinking about this) in Marion Nestle's new book 'What to Eat.' She quotes a marketing firm for Starbucks as saying, "More and more marketers are looking for ways to appeal to customers on an emotional level by indicating that they support the sorts of causes that consumers support." Ha starbucks.. who needs you and your fancy marketing firms! We were marketing and we didn't even know it. The booth with the vineyard in the distance... it was quite pretty. Oh but, it was windy!!! I'm so glad we returned our booth and risked the weather. The tent to the right of us went airborne, flipped over their smoker, dragged someone with it, also grabbed a folding chair and threw it up and into between two parked cars. The tent to the left of us almost lost thier tent (which was way big) on Saturday, and totally lost it today. It flipped up, knocked a table over, flew into the owner of the business (Jills' cousin) who had jumped between her and her children. We ran over, pulled it off her, the kids were crying... it was seriously nuts. Our Target crap tent would have been toast. And the amazing this was, our little puny sign didn't even get blown over once...
  6. We went to Nichols Orchard in Monroeville yesterday for apples. We picked Winesap, Roma, and Matsu. The Matsu are quite tasty. Sweet, a little tart, yellow and crunchy. Roma were not very sweet, but very creamy and a little tart. Winesaps were pretty amazing. Tart, sweet, nice apple flavor and gorgeous red color. And for $4 a basket off the ground, perfect for apple butter and pies... Yum. There is NOTHING like apples off the tree, warmed by the sun... oh man! Yummy. Cupcake... the bakery mini-van in the orchard. The trees were bursting with apples!!! Enjoy.
  7. Hello! Thanks for the good tips... as well as the good words. We appreciate it! Someone else told us about Vistaprints, and I checked it out a few days ago. We've actually gone through 250 cards in about two weeks, and I only have a few left! I've gone through overnightprints.com, and have been pretty happy with them. Good quality, nice looking cards. We looked at printers the other day, but decided on saving our money for a nicer quality one. I'm glad that we did after reading your positing!!! Where did you buy your printer? Anyone have any suggestions on a good printer? (Besides the Samsung... just so we can comparison shop a bit). And I like the advice that your friend gave you... we're definitly focusing on quality and service. We sold the soccer cake (1/2 sheet) for $50, and it's worth it! Jill says dinner is ready, gotta run!
  8. Hello again, So we got back from the Newfield Fall Festival a little while ago. It ended up being a very successful day! And I have to say, I'm a little surprised. First of all, the weather today is just awful. When we got up early this morning to bake the scones, it wasn't too bad out... but as we began to load the mini-van, the rain started. And the wind... So we set up the crap tent from Target, which I gotta say, was nice to have today. It might not be the best, but it kept us dry. It didn't keep us warm though, because it was quite chilly out and the wind was wicked. All in all, not a good day to have a town festival. Also, Newfield is a pretty small town (it's just north of Vineland, and is the actual town where Jill grew up and her mother still lives). We weren't expecting a huge turnout anyway, because of the small-ness like I mentioned, but there is a larger festival going on today somewhere in the local area (Deerfield, I don't know exactly where that's at). All that said, we sold out of almost everything, save a few brandy balls and a few jars of apple butter (a new addition). The apple butter sold very well... we picked the apples this week from a local farm ($4.00 a basket for apples off the ground... almost a steal), and jarred it up. We pushed the fact that is was from a local farm, and people really dug it I think. The oatmeal cookies and scones sold out quite fast (I smell signature items...). We raised the prices on the brandy balls to $.75 each or $2.00 for 4. People still ate them up. Actually, as we were packing up the van, a woman came running (literally) up to us and asked if we had more brandy balls. She said that she got 4, drove off, ate one, did a U-turn, and wanted two dozen more!!! Yes! That made us smile... But importantly, everyone loved our stuff and our story. The local townspeople practically begged us to open our shop in Newfield and even pointed out several properties that we should look into. There is an old tavern that is closed now right off the mail street that runs through town... great location, and it's even got a kitchen. Two problems though, first it looks seriously run down. Secondly, it's for sale only, and will be auctioned off soon. It comes with a HUGE house behind the bar, which is trashed but pretty cool. The bar is also bigger than we want, but... that's not really such a bad thing. The Newfield Business Alliance said that we would be more than welcome to join them, we met the incumbant mayor (who dug the chocolate chip cookies), and the organizer of the event today said we were the buzz of the town. He owns a community space right on the main corner, and suggested we do cooking classes or something there... and said he would charge us next to nothing to use it. He just wants to create a community there in Newfield and wants to bring people downtown to give them something to do. It was pretty awesome... On a similar note... two people were shot dead in Vineland, on Landis Ave, last night. We're thinking that Vineland is not the town for us... We gave it a chance, but what happened last night was one block from where we looked at that spot the other day. I'm sorry, but there's only so much we're willing to sacrifice for the town... my life, nor the lives of our customers, is not one of them... Jill just finished a soccer themed cake for delievery, sp we have to go drop it off. We're taking the rest of the day off, and will start assembling Tiramisu tomorrow! The booth at Newfield... The soccer cake! The soccer ball is 3-D...
  9. I haven't heard about Bobolink in a while... John used to own Egg Farm Dairy, right? I worked with him a few times during my time at CIA... He was very nice, and their cheese was fantastic!
  10. Hello again, We're getting ready for another event this weekend, although much smaller... perhaps very small if the weather predictions are right. As you might have heard, there is supposed to be rain on Saturday when we will be at the Newfield Fall Festival. Newfield is the actual town where Jill grew up, and it's just north of Vineland. We don't expect it to be a huge event, but it's local, so any contact we make there will be great. Last night, we went to a free seminar offered by the Small Business Development Center. There were maybe 40 people there, all interested in opening some sort of small business. It was put on by Joe, the same gentleman that we visited last month in AC. The information offered was good, but was basically the same stuff we went over at our meeting. It's always great it hear it again though... And we met some fellow small business owners. One guy, Dago, is a CIA grad who owns a BBQ joint (not a restaurant he said, a joint) in Mays Landing. He was super cool, big guy, tatoos, the sort of man you expect to see running a BBQ place. He told us to come by anytime to pay him a visit... he offered his help with contacts, perveyors, etc... His son does restaurant liquidation, so he can help us get cheap kitchen goodies through him. He also expressed interest in us doing some desserts for his joint... so that was cool. I looked at a spot today on Landis Ave in Vineland. Called the owner, he was closeby so I went downtown to meet him. The spot was nice... good location, good size, nice rent, but not set up for a bakery. I'd have to run a gas line in, update electric, put ventalation in... The building itself needs a little work as well. Thing is, he won't pay for any of it, which seems a little odd to me. I'm certainly not going to pay for renovation/restoration on the physical building if I'm only renting. Am I wrong here? He won't even share the costs... The other day, we went to a meeting of BNI. Has anybody heard of it? It's a networking group... costs money to join, so we were VERY sceptical, but it seems legit. I've asked a few people, and no one has anything bad to say about it. We're thinking of joining, because it seems like a good way to meet local business people (since I'm not from around here, I don't know too many people in the area). We also have the kind of business that word-of-mouth in a situation like this works really well. Everyone wants cakes, cookies, etc... What else... We're getting ready for next weekend. There is an Italian Festival at Belleview Winery, which I expect to be pretty big. It's at a winery, which we learned last week, is a good thing. It's Italian themed, which seems to be huge down these parts... everyone seems to be quite proud of thier Italian heritage. We've been asked to do the tiramisu for the festival. Someone is doing biscotti and Italian cookies, but we've cornered the Tiramisu market. We're planning on doing 800 for the weekend. We got little aluminum cups with lids last week, we ordered biodegradable 'plastic' spoons today (I'm pretty excited about these things... we saw them first in SF, and they're made of molded potato starch, so they totally break down in your compost bin!). We started baking the sponge for it today, and will be ordering the Mascarpone tomorrow. We tried making our own mascarpone last week, and were really happy with the results, but it would be a little much for us at this point. I got a tent for the booth at Target yesterday, and I gotta say... I'm a little annoyed about it. It's kinda junky. The tarp doesn't fit right, the poles had some serious issues in the production process, because they don't really fit together well. The handy tote bag it all fits into has ripped in several places... I am usually really happy with Target... If I wanted crap, I'd go to Wal-Mart, because it's cheaper, you know? I think I'm going to use it this weekend, and return it on Monday. Anybody have a suggestion on a good tent to use??? Alright, I'm tired and am going to bed. Goodnight... Oh, and Katie... thanks for the suggestions on places to have a booth. Bridal shows had totally slipped my mind, and they'd be perfect...
  11. We went to Erik's Restaurant in Vineland last night for my birthday dinner. It was quite good, and we had a really nice time. Erik's used to be a Greek deli before the owners converted it into a restaurant with a small assortment of Greek groceries, fresh pastas, desserts, and drinks. Jill and I got a greek salad, and a grilled vegetable gyro with fries and cole slaw. The food was really good, especially the greek salad. It was huge!!! And it came with lettuce, shredded carrot, tomato wedges, green and red bell peppers, red onion, wonderful dolmas, hard boiled egg, feta, peppercini, cucumber, black olives, pita wedges, anchovies, and artichoke hearts... The gyro had grilled eggplant, spinach, peppers, olives, feta, tzatiki sauce and broccoli all wrapped in a greasy and delicious pita... The food was tasty, and the service was great, and the price was right. And the grocery section reminded us of our time in Greece. They had greek NesCafe, the same kind they drink in Greece in thier Frappe (we had one every morning we were there). Erik's also had dolmas, olive oil, tahini, and quite a few other greek ingredients... All in all, a nice south Jersey food find! -Stephen
  12. Hello! We had a successful weekend! Hooray! We got up early on Saturday, baked off the scones, loaded up the van, and took off for Woodstown. We got there, set the table up, and quickly sold our first scone. The weather was not on our side though... it was kinda grey all day, and actually rained on us (twice). Obviously, the iced coffee was a bust. After the first rain though, business picked up becuase everyone took that time to eat lunch or sample the chili's at the chili cookoff. We sold a good number of everything, the scones were a big hit, as were all of the cookies. The brandy balls did really well (only after we started giving out samples... we didn't sell any before sample time). The cupcakes didn't sell too well, even after we dropped the price to a dollar. So although we didn't sell as much as we were hoping, we made a lot of really good contacts. We talked to a few brides (I'm so glad we printed pictures of our cakes and stuff, people seemed to really like them and I think it helped show people we're legit and not some Betty-homebakers). We met a couple that have an organic herb farm in the area. We met realtors. We met local press... and we gave out a ton of business cards and menus. So many people told us that Woodstown needs a bakery! We even had people showing us where to open up, where there are spaces available, and what to sell. We met the owner of a tea shop in town that is interested in buying tea pastries from us... So all in all, a good day. That night, we went to the wedding that we made the truffle wedding favors for. They turned out super cute, and everyone seemed to really like them. The cake was awful, considering how much money they spent on everything. It really bothers me when brides have to get the cake from the venue the wedding is at. They are most always crap! The venue knows that the cake is sold no matter what, so they don't care about it. I mean the cake looked nice, but the pearl border looked more like Hershey Kisses (amateur-ish at best), the ganache icing was poor because you could see many spots where the under-layer of buttercream came through... and the ganache was cracked throughout the cake. It looked like they hade made it the day before and it sat in a walk-in... the edges were not clean, etc... ah!!!! It drives me crazy... but you know, not many people notice such details I guess... The next day, the event didn't start until noon. It was grey out again, and this time is was straight up raining the whole way there. This event was a grape stomping festival, and thank God they moved it indoors! But after we set up, and right about when the event started, the sun came out and it became a beautiful day! That brought the crowds out, and long-story short... we had an amazing day and sold out of everything. We sold our last cookie about ten mintues before the event ended. We met more people this day, made more money, and everyone seemed super-impressed with everything that we did. It was a lot of fun. My parents helped out the whole weekend, passing out samples, selling Jill and I, cutting samples, cleaning up, taking money, etc... They rocked and we couldn't have done it without them. Jill and I are really happy with how everything turned out... We learned a lot as well! Such as... -Invest in a tent, it will keep the sun and rain off of us. It'll also add a bit more professionalism to the display. -Get more business cards and menus. We gave them ALL out. -Events at wineries draw a higher clientele. We figured that the winery was a destination event as well. People went expecting to spend money, and they did. We asked higher prices on the scones ($2) and cupcakes ($1.50), and no one batted an eye at it. People at the town festival went not so much to buy things, but to check it out and browse the street... -We need to push the mailing list. We didn't have a clipboard or anything for the mailing list, so it wasn't as easy for people to sign up or even notice it. It was one of those things that we didn't really think about until it was too late. -Samples are very important! It brought people over, created a crowd around our table, and let people know why they would spend more money on our stuff. We pushed the all-natural, nothing artifical thing and people responded well. -The waiters apron is very important for taking and keeping money, and we need to get another. (We only had one.) That's about all I can think of at the moment... I actually have a question for everyone as well... How should we charge for delivery? We're delivering in Vineland for free at the moment because we don't have an actual storefront, and the town's not that big. But what if someone wants a cake in Atlantic City? Or anywhere that's a little ways away? Suggestions??? Thanks everyone! Here are some pix from this weekend... The booth at Woodstown. We sold the Brandy Balls $.50 each, or five for $2. Almost everyone took the deal... Oatmeal cookies... Chocolate chip and PB fudge cookies... Chocolate cupcakes... Lemon cupcakes... More chocolate cupcake... The truffle boxes... The inside of the boxes with our stamp (the website is still not up!!!) The truffle box on the table... The booth at Renault Winery... SOLD OUT!!!
  13. Good morning! So everything got baked off yesterday (thanks to my parents, who were a BIG help). I got up early this morning and am baking scones as we speak. We just need to load up the mini-van and head to Woodstown... Coffee is my friend... We got change yesterday at the bank in small bills and quarters. We picked up our chef jackets from the tailors... we each had one nice, clean jacket remaining with our names stenciled onto it that now fit very nicely. We made the iced coffee, but the brand new cooler leaked, so I'm going to try the backup cooler now. It was maddening doing everything out of the house... the oven is SO small, but this is how it's got to be done at the moment. At least we're being clean and as effiecient as we can possibly be... By the way, the costed to brandy balls out to be about $.11 each, so yeah $.25 was too little. We're going to charge $.50a pop, 5 for $2.00. I'd love to charge $.75 plus, but people in the parts wouldn't have anything to do with it. Everything is running about 15-20% food cost, which seems about right on. Oh, the timer is going off... have to run. Wish us luck! -Stephen edited to add: mmmmmmmm Tartine... I miss thier croissants...
  14. Ahhhhhhhh! We're really not having good luck with printers... Staples almost gave us a heartattack the other day. So we went with Sir Speedy to print the menus for this weekend. Well we get a call today (the day before the event) that they basically f*ed up our order and instead of printing a nice two-fold double sided brochure, they printed six page one-pagers and stapled them together. Apparently the person who knows how to do the layouts is sick, and no one else knows how to print things at this printing shop. I'm seriously annoyed right now... And no, the website did not get worked out yet. Brother still has the password and login ID, and he get's back from vacation today. On the lighter side... everything is going pretty well on the production side. All the cookies, cupcakes, scones, etc... are done. We just need to bake everything off and finish the cupcakes. They do look pretty cute, I must say... I'll get pictures of everything after this weekend.
  15. Hey thanks for all the input. The reason the brandy balls are so cheap is that they're made of all scrap! Cake scraps make up the bulk, there's some chocolate scraps, the only thing that costs money is the nuts (and we're clearing out grandma's liquor cabinet for the booze). Thinking about it though... $.25 is a little on the cheap side of things. We're in full scale chocolate chip production right now... just took a lunch (and eGullets) break.
  16. Yeah, I wouldn't think twice about paying $3.00 for a good, homemade, quality cupcake... but Vineland is not the most culinarily advanced place... $2.00 sounds more reasonable. It's going to be the smaller home-sized cupcakes... We'll try $2.00 for the iced coffee and see if it flies. It is quite tasty, I must say. We use evaporated milk, honey, and sugar, which gives it a really nice taste. I guess the good thing about starting out with these festivals is that we can adjust the price as needed. If the cupcakes sell out in an hour, we know we can probably raise the price next week. If the coffee isn't selling at all, we just lower the price on the sign to see if it picks up. I just read 'The Tipping Point' and so I'm seeing a practical application to what was in that book... And there really is nothing in the area besides Shop Rite and Acme for baked goods. We're after a totally different market than those places, so it's really hard to price accordingly. They charge something like $.25 or something for a cupcake, but you know, it's total crap.
  17. So we've been super busy lately. This is a crazy week, but we seem to be handling it pretty well. There is a lot to do, and there is even more to think about. We're trying to stay organzied, which is key! I think we're doing fairly good job of it... My parents (and brother and sister) got here yesterday. They are moving to the area in a few months, because my mother got a job in Concordville in PA, and they wanted to be closer to us. They timed thier trip up here so that they could help out this week. Jill and I got the truffle boxes, ribbon, and stickers in for the wedding favors for Saturdays wedding. We made the truffle base two nights ago and scooped the truffles themselves last night. Tonight, the we and fam are coating the truffles in chocolate and cocoa, and are putting them in little cups inside the boxes. We're doing 250 boxes, 500 truffles... and it's all for free. Jill's best friends is the one getting marries, so we wanted to do something special for her. It's costing us a lot of money (more than a regular present), but this wedding is crazy expensive, and there will be 250 wealthy individuals there. All potential customers... the bride is letting us put some contact info inside each box, so we ordered an ink stamp with the name, phone number, and web address. We almost had a problem with the stamp, because I went to pick it up yesterday at Staples, and the counter girl told me it wouldn't be done for 7-14 days! I needed it by Wednesday! And when we ordered it, we were told it would only take 3-5 days. Ok, so I went home, found the receipt, and called them to cancel. The girl who answered, told me she'd have to call me back because she was dealing with a customer with a problem... hmmmm seems systematic there. Anyway, so as we walked into Sir Speedy a little later (they do stamps overnight, but it costs twice as much), Staples called back and said it would be in tommorrow. So we picked it up today, and it looks great... Problem is that Jill's half-brother, who was so gung-ho about helping us set up a website and registered a domain for us, went on vacation this week and totally flaked out. I'm a little irritated. I told him just to give me the login info, and I could put something up, but he didn't even do that. I communicated to him how important and urgent is was that something... ANYTHING be on the website, but no. Now we're kinda stuck. We have all the truffle boxes with the website on it, all these bags that are going to have our stamp on it for the festivals this weekend... and nothing on the website. Not even an under construction sign. Grrrrrr. He gets back on Friday, and I hope to God he does something for me on Monday when he gets back into work. Jill says that he is on the fathers side, so we should have known better... haha. Everything else is going well. We're prepping cookies and putting them in the freezer. We're figuring out the set-up of the table for this weekend. For the Woodstown Fall Festival, we're making the following... Cookies -The Godfather of Chocolate Chip Cookies -Oatmeal Raisin -Peanut Butter Fudge Cupcakes -Chocolate with Vanilla Buttercream -Lemon with Lemon Buttercream Scones -Whole Wheat Raisin -White cheddar/green onion Brandy balls (all the left over cake scraps from the last few weeks) Beverages -Iced Coffee -Iced Tea That's it... we might have some leftover truffles. Might sell those, we'll see. We were going to fill the cupcakes, but we're worried about the workload, and the fact that we'd have to charge more money for those. We don't want to scare potential customers away with seemingly too high prices. We haven't decided on prices yet. We're thinking $1.25 for the cookies, $2 for the cupcakes, $1.50 for the scones, $.25 for the brandy balls, and $1.50 for the beverages... In total, we're making about 1000 total pieces, not including beverages. They're expecting 4000 people, and there are no other bakeries present. They're setting us up near the wine tasting area, so there should be a good amount of traffic. It's really stressful, because this is our first event (as the Sweet Life), so we're not entirely sure what to expect. We ordered pictures on DotPhoto.com (30 prints free when you sign up!) of our wedding cake portfolio, and grandma had an extra photo album to put them in. We're putting that on the table, so we can get our name out there for wedding cakes. We put together a menu, so we need to print those up, we're thinking 500, and put those on the table. We're really hoping (although we're quite scared) that business will pick up after this weekend. We have another event the next day, a grape stomping festival, so... Well that's all I can think of at the moment. This is good actually, typing about everything is relaxing... haha I'll post some more pix when we get a minute. Here is the truffle wedding favors. The sticker is the logo that the bride and groom are using... they hired someone to make them for the invites, etc...
  18. Thanks for asking for more clarification... My wife and I have started a small bakery, running it out of the house at the moment (hopefully not for too long). We're trying to keep track and what we've bought, what we have, and how that relates to a food cost. Food costing I can do with no problem... We'll probably to weekly inventory. I've always done inventory in the kitchen, but have never assembled a spreadsheet in the computer to keep track of it. Our inventory is ridiculusly low at the moment, but that's why I want to tackle this now... Thanks again. (BTW- Here is the link to my thread about opening the business...)
  19. Hello all. Does anyone with inventory experience have a suggested layout in Excel for keeping track of inventory? I've been playing with some different formats, but haven't been really happy with any of them. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks...
  20. A website is in the works as we speak. Jill's brother is doing it.. although when people do things for you for free, there is no sense of urgency. We have the domain name www.thesweetlifebakery.com, so hopefully something will be up soon... For the wedding favors next weekend, we have ordered a stamp with the website address on it. They're going inside the boxes for truffles...
  21. I baked off a dozen cookies this morning... half chocolate chip and half oatmeal. We put them in bags, wrapped in a little deli paper (without, the bag gets a little greasy looking). Folded them twice, and stapled a business card to it. I gave one to the real estate agent we met with this morning, two to the ladies at the library, and one to the guy where we get a bunch of our paper products. Well the ladies at the library liked them so much, one of them ordered a dozen for a dinner party tonight... she gave me the money, and we're dropping them off later! Sweet!
  22. That's all Jill. She's got amazing writing skills...
  23. Hello again! Today was a big day for us! We sold our first cake today! It was a baby shower cake for Jill's step-sister. She needed a cake for a shower at work, and no one lives near or knows of a good bakery... so Carla ordered a cake from us. It came out very cute, and it tastes wonderful. We've been doing recipe testing all week. Every morning, four different varieties of iced coffee await us downstairs. It's almost there, I think one of the coffees tommorrow will be a winner. We've tried using milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk... sugar, honey, and vanilla... We're going to sell the iced coffee at the fairs and festivals we're doing in the coming weeks. Last night, we started prepping the cookies for next weekend. About 10 dozen each of oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies. Whole wheat raisin and white cheddar/green onion scones. We went to BJ's yesterday and got cups, napkins, plastic wrap, aluminum hotel pans, along with cream, sugar, cinnamon, etc... It's crazy because we're spending money, but not making any yet (except for today). But I'm beginning to sense that this is what being a small business owner is all about... embracing the unknown. Tommorrow, we're meeting a local real estate agent who is showing us a spot near here. It's not kitchen set up, but it is in a decent location and looks to be about the right size for what we want. I finished reading the Tipping Point tonight as well, which was a very interesting book that inspired me to attach our business cards to a bag with two of our cookies in it. We got small paper bags to use at the fairs next week, so first thing tommorrow, I'm baking some cookies, putting two in a bag, and stapling a business card to it... I figure it will be more memorable that way. We got tickets to the International Hotel/Motel and Retaurant Show in NYC in the middle of November. It'll be a good opportunity to network, see some new products, check out the pastry competition, and see some old friends up in New York. That's it for now, thanks! -Stephen A cake we made for Jill's step-mother a few days ago. Vanilla spice cake with caramelized apple filling (the filling needs some tweaking) and brown butter buttercream (which is so so tasty). The cake we made for Jill's grandmothers birthday recently. Our first cake sale!!!
  24. Yeah, the kitty was fine on the drive across country... Travelling in Europe definitly opened our eyes to many different styles of pastry. We ate so many sweets there, deconstructing, evaluating, and taking pictures... I'm surprised we don't weigh 500 pounds! But we seriously took pictures of everything we ate, and I also kept a food journal. Italian pasty was good, but the pastry in Sicily was amazing. We stayed in Siracusa with some chef friends, and we had the most amazing food there. Some of the best pastry of our trip was there... the gelato, the cannoli, and casata siciliana... We all took a day trip to Modica as well, which is known for its chocolate, and had some incredible pastry there as well... The style of the bakery is going to be very California... American style pastry and cakes, with a focus on quality, locality, simple but tasty flavors. Of course, in California style cuisine, there is a heavy European influence, mostly Italian... which is good for us because there is a huge Italian/American population here. We're going to do cannoli (directly influenced by our time in Sicily). Ricotta and mascarpone will be used. We're going to try to make our own actually, which no one in the area is doing (or that many people for that matter). There will be a French influence due to my training at the Ritz under an extremely talented French pastry chef, as well as our month living in Paris. But I think that it will be a more subtle influence... no St. Honore or Tarte Tropazzienne... although we may throw in a cannele every once in a while. As far as German, we'd love to make pretzels, but I don't think that people in the area would be to receptive to poppy seeds or strudel... but you never know. When we get a retail shop up and running, we might run something like that as a special to see if people are interested, but I think that we'll have to earn our customers trust first. And we're going to have some latino influence, due to my growing up in Florida as well as the huge Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Dominican population here in Jersey. We have Torte Tres Leches on the menu now, and will have some guava cheesecake perhaps in the future. But mostly American style stuff... butter cakes, lemon curd, pastry cream, ganache, etc... fresh fruits (south Jersey has an astounding array of produce). Thanks for the questions! It's good for us to think about and articulate in writing... -Stephen PS- We're really going to miss the bay area... but our time had come to move on for the moment.
  25. Hello all! So in the style of melmck and Criollo Bakery, my wife and I are going to tell the tale of starting our bakery. We're going to share with you the ups, the downs, and the inbetweens... and we're going to ask for your help along the way! If there is enough interest in this posting, I'll continue it... But first, a little background. My wife Jill and I met at the Culinary Institute of America the day before the first day of class. We became close friends first, then more, and after we graduated, we moved to San Francisco and got married. We've both been working in kitchens since high school, so have been working for about 10 years each. In San Francisco, Jill became the pastry chef at a restaurant called Hawthorne Lane and I worked pastry at the Ritz-Carlton. After several years, we decided that we were done working for other people and that we wanted to open our own business. We looked around SF, but for a variety of reasons, chose not to open it there. Jill's grandmother, who just turned 90 (and by the way, is an amazing cook... she just taught me how to make stuffed peppers from her garden) had always offered to let us live with her in her house. She had lived alone since her husband passed away 25 years ago, so the family was happy to have us move in with her. Jill and her Grandmother are very close, so we decided to move back to Vineland, NJ to open our place. But first we made the decision to spend quite a bit of our savings to travel through Europe for five months. Sure, it would be easier to open a business with the money we spent in Europe, but we lived very cheaply, ate an amazing amount of food (which we justified as research), and basically had the time of our lives. No regrets about the trip at all... So while we were gone, Jill's mother and grandmother converted an old attic apartment into a new attic apartment for us to live in. It's worked out really well so far, it allows us to live here without being in grandma's space! It's definitly a win-win situation... we live here rent free (and I get to learn cooking and gardening!) and she get's company and people to do all the housework that a 90 year old woman can't do herself (plus the peace of mind it allows the rest of the family). We moved in two weeks ago after buying a minivan in SF and driving cross-country. (We had some great BBQ along the way.) We had plenty of time in Europe to think about the business... our ideas, strategies, plans, worries, etc... and this is what we've done so far. -We developed a menu. -We had a meeting with the New Jersey Small Business Development Center in Atlantic City. It was a very productive meeting, and it was all free! -We've networked, given out some business cards. We're making a few cakes so far on the side. Baby shower, birthdays, etc... -We got a employer ID number from the IRS, and we need to register our name soon with the city. -Some recipe testing of course. Cookies, cakes, scones... Given some out and asked for thoughts. -I'm working on the business plan. -Pretty soon, we're doing some fall festivals, 300 truffle wedding favors for a friends wedding, a wine festival here in south jersey. -We talked with the exec director of the Vineland Downtown Development Project at the farmers market downtown. She's going to be a good resource I think. -We've been looking for a space to call our own. This has been hard! We called a few places, but nothing has fit so far and we don't want to force it. -We've priced out ingredients, equipment, and other random stuff (boxes and carboard circles...). That's all I can think of at the moment. It's stressful, crazy, exciting and fun. We'd love to make this a learning experience for everyone who reads it. We're certainly going to be reading melmck's postings about Criollo again and again. Yes, I sometimes think we're crazy to leave our good-paying jobs, our free health insurance, our great apartment, our lives... We're confidant that we've made the right decision, and every person we talk to around here says that Vineland needs a bakery like what we want! So until next time...
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