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melmck

Mel's New Bakery

515 posts in this topic

Good Morning, it is great to meet you all. After some good suggestions and prompting, I will lay down my life story for you. (kinda, sorta) and tell everyone about the Opening of a Bakery. First a brief history.

I was born and raised with excellent food. My Mom was a chef in London in the early 60's. She won't say she is a chef though- something like Culinary Professional. She made everything from scratch for us, in the 1970's when everyone was digging what came out of boxes, bags, frozen or freeze-dried astronaut food. I started training at her knee and cooked/baked family meals from 10 years old. I was a natural, and started working at our Italian friends, the Todaros, party center at age 14. They also had an Italian import shop in the 70's and I remember the smell of olives, cured meats and cheeses. When I think of it, and breathe in, I can still smell it as though it were yesterday.

Next phase, I start woking fast food. Arby's in fact, and made Manager by age 18. I thought I was hot shit and too cool for school. I give credit to that experience for teaching me all about sanitation, and being seriously AR. Fill the fries up to this line, fill the shakes up to this line, try and make it all look like it does in the advertisements. I swear this was my goal! By the way don't ever eat that "roast beef"...that's another tale. So I'm a teenager who needs fast cash to feed that jones, and work at Pizza Hut. I make the best looking pies with concentric circles of pepperoni and perfectly layered cheese. Whip it out, slice it perfectly, then drive all over town while getting loaded with all of the other drivers and cooks. Deliver free pies to the big parties, get free drugs! Now become most popular person around...

next phase hazy due to drugs, ..............., uuuhh,....., get cleaned up, move back in with parents. Start working at a Steak & Prime Rib joint. Roast those babies perfectly, become even more of an anal freak and do everything JUST SO. Move into soups and sauces. LOVE BEING SAUCIER!!! Love sucking the cans of whipped cream first thing in the AM, and then saying, hey!! These ones are all flat, bring me another case ASAP!!

Get shit together, move to Pacific Northwest all by myself,I remembered huge trees, crystal clear water and big mountains from a childhood trip. Seattle. Yep, they are still there although the trees have taken a beating by clear cutting and 'forest management'. Work in a hotel and do every position. Learn about assembly line plating for thousands of people. Learn that the platters of food I am making cost the guest $3500, while I am making $8 an hour and putting 50 cents in the gas tank just to get to work. Soaking up the culinary scene of Seattle, and learning all about Pike Place Market. Coffee. Beer. Mushrooms.Nuts. Pears.Berries. Produce, meat, handcrafted cheeses. Wine. More coffee. Learning that the alehouses of Seattle are some of the best restaurants in the city, and that most of the rest of the country can not compare to their beautiful marriage of excellent food paired with excellent beer. Now to move to my most favorite job ever. The Maple Leaf Grill, working for Rip. He's an amazing chef who calls himself a cook. He is humble about the accolades he receives, and he is one talented MF. He teaches me all about the importance of locally grown products. The Northwest has it all. That's our wild mushrooms, berries, lamb, potatoes and hazelnuts that most of the country is eating. And salmon, how could I forget that? We go to Pike Place Market, fill up backpacks, hoof it back to the restaurant and see what rolls out. Leeks, vinegar, honey, . Tomatoes, sausages, aged cheeses. Pears. Purple potatoes. Oysters. Chiles. I could keep going...

Now I'm completely sucked in to only using the very best, freshest, handcrafted products. Obsession! Passion! Damn the cost! I want the best! Keep cooking in great places all over the Northwest. Seattle, Eugene, Portland. By the way at this point I am only doing savory stuff. I have very little interest in baking & pastry. I am also the only woman in the kitchen at all of my jobs. I learn to fight dirty, and become a tough bitch. I go to culinary school, and am very let down. Expensive, full of 18 year-olds forced into some kind of trade by their parents, already teaching passe' CLASSICS. I do learn about costing, and how to manage 18 year-olds. I take an internship in charcuterie, and also research cheesemaking. I am working Sous Chef jobs, one after the other, then start to think, well if I am going to ever make executive chef, I'd better know every single position in the kitchen. I had always stayed away from bread and pastry. I am also thinking do I HAVE to go to France and work under big names to be acknowledged as a talented chef? Will I always be small potatoes if I don't? Do my stages with big wigs count for anything? I have never been able to afford to go to France to train.

One day, while working as Sous at the charcuterie joint, which also had 3 sister restaurants and a huge catering business, the Pastry Chef quits and they come running to me. Do I want to do it? Can I help for a few weeks until we find a new PC? I say sure what the heck, I'm supposed to learn everything anyway if I'm ever gonna hit Exec. So I delve into pastry, and have no one to teach me and show me. I learn very fast that you do not want to overcook 20 cheesecakes. Or anything else. It is a very humbling experience, and I feel like such a loser for not knowing these things. But, I am a research queen. I figure it out. as always, by myself, the hard way which is the best way- you learn everything VERY QUICKLY about what to do, what not to do. what works. Trial and error. Thrown in to the lion's den, the way it has always worked for me. None of this hand-holding crap for me, thank you very much! I can do it! Fast forward a few years, and I finally feel like, yes, I am a Pastry Chef. Wow, whooda thunk? I work for some serious bastards a long the way. I get screwed over, and never get the pay I deserve, and frequently feel like I work for Hitler's Henchmen. The old boys club too. Work extra hard, and make sure I am the last one standing each night. First person in, last person out, all for $24K a year, 6 days a week for 18 hours a day. I am a zombie. I cry on the way home from sheer exhaustion. Never ever cry at work. Never let'em see ya sweat. I can do it. I can handle it. No problem! How much and when do you need it by?? Piece of fricken cake. Born to do it with both hands tied behind my back, I can pull that tray out of the oven with my teeth!

Yep, I'm opening a bakery RIGHT NOW and I am spilling my guts on a forum. I do not have time for this, but it is in some ways therapeutic. MY personal time. However I am whupped it's midnight and I have to be at the bakery at 8AM, getting the phone & internet hook up. So I will contiune the saga, of how I got to this point.


Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Melissa--thanks for beginning the first-ever pastry chef blog on eGullet P&B and for taking the time to share. We will all look forward to further installments. Perhaps you could touch on how you selected your location and how you arranged financing? What was your Mom's advice as you were developing this bakery plan?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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LOVE IT! Your my long lost sister, I think....Hurry up, get back here I need the rest of this fix.

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This is so totally cool. Please keep going.

Ellen

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Awesome stuff!!!

Love your guts!

Fuck 'em all!

Can't wait to read more!

Thanks for letting us in.


2317/5000

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Well gosh golly, thanks for the interest.

It was 1997 that I jumped into pastry. I still felt like it was something I HAD to do. People always say "I don't have the patience for that", like we are born incredibly patient?? And I say, YOU LEARN IT. Waiting for the oven to come to temp. Waiting for the pans to come out of the dishwasher. Waiting for chocolate to reach the right temperature. Waiting for the ganache to set. Waiting for dough to thaw. Waiting for stuff to cool down before proceeeding with the next step. Waiting for some jerk to get out of your way. Patience is forced upon us. Now I am patient-with my products, not neccessarily people. I do try, and am a reasonable person to work with. We'll see what happens in my own bakery!.Maybe I'll need a bullwhip and electric cattle prod. It's going to be my ass and my dollars on the line. So don't fuck it up. This part is always hard for an employee to get. Attach a dollar figure to that pan of almonds you burned, or that ice cream you forgot to wrap well, now the whole things freezer burned and is garbage. You over whipped the heavy cream? It's coming out of your paycheck, pal.

I fall for the classic carrot-dangling offered by so many chefs. I am inherently optimistic and want to beleive that it will happen. I will work with big shots. I will travel to Hawaii. Aspen, Paris. It never happens. I pay my own way to the James Beard House when my last employer is invited. That's right, my own plane tix, and everything. The only thing that really made it worthwhile, I did get The Supreme Hook-Up at Picholine, thank you Terrance Brennan, and eat and drink more in one meal than in a week. At one point I had nine different glasses of wine, champagne, liquer in front of me. I am hammered. There are shieks and ladies dripping in furs & diamonds, looking at me and my friends like we won a contest on Oprah. Who are those shabbily dressed freaks and why are they getting star treatment??? HAHAHA this is the best moment of my life! We are so drunk,and so blown away, that we cannot stop laughing. We are obnoxious, and I ask the napkin boy to please carry me to the bathroom. This turns out to be a really bad plan, the night before the James Beard dinner. Have you ever tried to cook for the most important dinner event so hungover that even your hair hurts?

I no longer beleive the carrot-danglers. I will not do this at my bakery. It is what it is. I continue working pastry chef jobs, get a little local attention. I never run out of ideas, or motivation for new things. There is always so much more to learn. This is how I approach learning any subject. Read, research, surf the internet, read some more. I want to know everything about that little magical cocoa bean. Naturally fermented breads. Coffee, beer wine etc. Luckily my husband is very much into all of this as well, not professionally. He brews, roasts our own coffee, makes our bread. We have very high standards which annoy our families. We are used to the best! Why the hell should we settle for less?

Once again, soo tired, I will continue later and get to the bakery part. Promise.


Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Great stuff, Mel. I love hearing about your background and all the prep for the bakery. A couple questions - How did you decide to open a bakery as the next step in your career, and why did you choose to start it in Portland (which seems to have several quality bakeries already, while Seattle has almost no pastry worth mentioning)?

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Because I live in Portland, I love it here. I own my home, we work our butts off to improve it all of the time. It's value has doubled in 5 years.(Hello, equity injection for the bakery.)Yes we have good bread bakeries, but for pastries and desserts there is a serious niche to be filled, and right here in my own neighborhood. I love Seattle, I used to live there. If you haven't lived there, you wouldn't know that every neighborhood has it's own bakery, coffee shop, bar, restaurants, alehouses, that are each distinct to it's section of town. Portland is now achieving this.


Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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I'd love to know more specifics about your bakery. Have you desided on your product line, packaging, etc....? Where's it located, whats the decor like, when do you open? What kind of equipment do you have? Whats your specialty? Will you do chocolates or ice creams? Will you seek out wholesale? What type of crowd are you aiming for (income level, office workers, homemakers, after the theater crowds)? Will you do decorated b-day cakes? Do you have any photos of your work you'd post for us?

Are you familar with Brian here? He also is in the midst of getting his bakery off the ground. He's on the East Coast-I wonder how that effects your businesses, verse being mid-western.......what's the level of pastry knowledge of your clients?

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Curious..what is thename of the bakery????

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Jeez, wish I'd known about you on my recent trip to Portland! :sad: Or maybe I did, but didn't know it. :biggrin:

In any case, please keep writing. Great story.

And fyi: the Todaro store is still going, on Second Avenue. Let's close our eyes and take a deeeeeeeeeeeeep breath together.

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[i want to know everything about that little magical cocoa bean. ]

Like you, I research the heck out of things to understand what makes them work, and now I'm learning about chocolate. I have a bag of beans sitting on my counter with which to experiment.

Where are you finding your chocolate information? What're you doing with beans?

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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


Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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OH MY GOD-YOUR A CRUEL WOMEN! You don't need to sleep...........get back here I got to hear the rest!

You tease................(man could you give me some lessons on that art?)

oh, p.s. I quit my job two weeks before 9/11, and went the same route-but chickened out of my own place. I have to hear you succeed-knock everyones socks off girl!


Edited by Sinclair (log)

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Oh my goodness Mel, you have to tell me/us more! I get to the end and then :shock: where is the rest!?!!!!! Shoot, hoping you tell us more of your blog for tonight's edition. I am assuming you got the place in question, but wondering where it is and what you called it. It sounds like you did your homework for everything so I know you are going to be great!


Debra Diller

"Sweet dreams are made of this" - Eurithmics

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For chrisssakes woman! brew up a pot of your husband's hand roasted coffee and finish the story. This must be how Fred Savage's character felt in the Princess Bride. You sucked me in, and now I want it all!!! goddammit!! Watch, I'm going to miss half the sopranos tonite checking this thread.


Patrick Sheerin

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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!!!


Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Your thread is the proverbial needle in the arm, I have gotten my fix................for now. As with all things addictive, I will be needing more, and "more" of it. Like pictures. Hello, before and afters. Great thread, thank you very much for sharing your experiences (why does that sound so rehabie?). It's eye opening to read the actualities of self-ownership because I'm sure that it's applicable to all types of foodie establishments. The amazing thing about this thread, IMO, is that you are writing like many of us talk (in the kitchen) which really hits home with a lot of us, I'm sure. :cool:


Patrick Sheerin

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Yeah, great thread. I live in Portland too and will be coming to eat some of your goodies whenever you open up!

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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


Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Your an absolute delight and treasure! I have no doubts that your bakery will rock. You got to be tough, got to push like hell and stick to your guns when your right-you've clearly got all the right personality traits to pull this off!

Have you got a yes man ready to run your front end? I can't tell you how important that will be to free you up. I know you'll feel contrained if you don't. People read thru you like news paper, you got to have someone who loves to bs with the frequent overly talkative customer while you tend to what needs to be tended.

When you get that frequent idiot who NEEDS a box for their .50 purchase you have to have someone running interference for you. That customer may never buy enough to pay for the packaging -BUT at the same time theres a big fish listening to this, waiting for your attention. Your being judged at all times.

Find someone that frees you to do what your best at. They'll become worth every raise they demand.

Trust me, I speak from experience on this.

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