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Mel's New Bakery


melmck
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We are thrilled that you're too busy to type. Even those of us who seldom post are so thrilled to have a window seat to your success and are so happy for you. I can't tell you how inspiring you are to those of us without the guts to do what you are doing. Wish I could say more than 'keep up the good work'. That seems so inadaquite, but hopefully you feel all the good vibes coming your way from the quiet masses all over egullet land.

Stop Family Violence

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I was there that day and she said she was totally wiped out of everything by 10am and was baking like crazy to fill the cases again. Stopped in because we were out of bread. We've become accustomed to having her multigrain for toast every morning. It's the lightest, most wonderful multigrain I've ever had. I'm not usually a big fan of "muffler" bread (as we call it in our house) but hers is really good.

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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Mmmmm. Green apple scone...the breakfast of champions! I love the way these scones are always nice and soft. Not wedges hard as hockey pucks like other places. I've never seen the coconut scones again though. I guess I'm there on the wrong days or something. Those have been my fave scone so far. And the rhubarb financiers. If there are any left at the end of a thursday evening, I promise I'll buy them all. (nudge, nudge, :wink::wink: ) Seriously.

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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I do coconut now & again, I change them all the time. tell ya what I'll post next time they are available.

Very hard week

Front oven's heating element died, have no oven up there , have to run our butts off to bake stuff

Not one thing breaking it's another

training a million people

want to make new/exciting stuff, barely have time, trying to keep up

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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That would be Vengroff's pics which I'm very thankful for btw. They are some great pics! (drool)

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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This was in our neighborhood paper:

Thursday, May 12, 2005

HAVE YOU BEEN?

One of the reasons why I have barely lost any weight after having a baby 8 months ago is because of Criollo Bakery. Yes, I blame Melissa and her baked deliciousness. At least one member of our family is there daily. If it weren't for her lovely, buttery, sprinkle-covered cookies, our older daughter would never be potty-trained. She should have a sign next to them that reads, "Parents: These make excellent bribes."

I was chatting with her today and quiche was on her mind. She'd like more people to come in and eat some quiche. And quite frankly, so would I. I would like there to be none left when I walk in looking for lunch ideas. Lunch you say? Yes, lunch. Honestly, there is nothing better in the whole world than a sandwich (I like the tuna) on Criollo's house-made bread and a cup or bowl of soup. Except for the quiche. Which, Melissa says, is so light because she uses lots of silky, full-fat, heavy cream in hers. Trust me, it's one of those dichotomies that works. It is light as a cloud.

My husband is a fan of their focaccie which are topped with luscious items like chevre or caramelized onions or pancetta or figs. They will happily warm them for you and bring them to your table.

Another reason to go and have lunch there is to use the sleek silverware and to drink from the hefty goblets. Melissa has thought of everything down to the last detail. You don't feel like you are sitting down to eat in a casual bakery, but, rather, a fine restaurant. It's attention to details like this that make going to Criollo Bakery such a special experience.

She also has a really nice full-page article in this month's issue of Food and Wine which includes--wait for it--recipes. A bunch of 'em. Raawwwk!

Criollo Bakery is on Fremont at NE 47th.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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VICTORY! Success is sweet in a bakery, eh Mel? Good going girl and keep it up. Are you getting your Monday's off yet? So glad to see your hard work and brainiac planning is paying off.

When is your official 1 year anniversary? Will you do something special at the bakery or personally to celebrate it?

WOOO-HOOOO!

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Quiche? Sorry, but I lean to the savory bread pudding! It rocks. But even that is only when there are no more focaccia with pancetta. Giving me the shivers just thinking about it. Best dinner in the world. :wub:

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know where to start.

Over the last week, I've read your 'blog' (I've been reading a couple of pages every night after work). I wish I had been taking notes along the way because there is so much I'd like to say to you Mel.

First: Congratulations on your lovely bakery. All of the pictures look fantastic and from your press and the first-person reports here, I'd say you've done an amazing job in a (I know it doesn't feel like it) short time.

Next, I've felt for you and I've laughed with you, and I may have even cried for you! When I was a child my mother started a specialty cake shop which turned into a full catering company. My father and I are now in the business with her. Everything you've been going through is familiar to me. I've been printing off a part here and there and giving them to mom to read.

Staff - You seem to be well on your way with staff now (I hope). I always find it amazing that there are so many people out there who are looking for jobs, yet it's hard to find good help. I've hired people and had them not show up. What's up with that?? They don't even call to let you know they won't be coming in. You can check as many references as you want, when you're talking about the food business people may think it'll be fun to work in a kitchen, but once they start to think about everything you've told them will be going on they rethink things and realize it's hard work! I've had people who like to slip their friends free food and bev. I've had people who call in sick a lot or like to show up late. People can talk all they want about 'paying more money for better staff". I'll tell you what, as soon as I get a regular paycheck, we'll talk about paying other people more money. (Let me also point out that we always pay over min. wage)

Money - oy. It seems something always needs more. Things are going smoothly and the 10'x10 walk in cooler breaks down. That's fixed and next week the largest hobart needs a new something-or-other. Then the toilet needs a plumber. The van we use for deliveries and going to the wholesale (because if you had everything delivered from the big suppliers you'd go broke faster) dies. (we're still in morning for it). Anyhow, the point is that while people may seem to understand money issues - if you've never owned your own small-business, I don't know if you can really understand the issues. Have you heard this one yet "Oh! You have your own business. You're so lucky to 'have' something. Not like me who has a regular job with a steady paycheck." We've heard from other people (never the actual source) that we're rolling in dough. Eh??

One of my favorite parts of your blog was when you were telling us (and people on here were suggesting to you) that people were telling you to take some time for yourself and relax. Go to a spa. Get a massage. Take a nap. Ummm... then who's gonna do the work? It's not like you have a boss who'll pick up the slack. It's your ass on the line and you are the only one who is really looking out for it.

How about your friends and family having to stop by the bakery if they wanted to see you? A lot of my old friendships didn't survive once I returned from University and started taking on more and more responsibility. I guess they weren't great friends. I still have some people (all with desk jobs) who don't understand why I may not want to go out on a Friday night after pushing out g-d knows what for the weekend. Some people have no clue how hard it is to work in a kitchen. Physical and mental I'm exhausted. I don't want to have a 2 hour phone conversation with you at the end of the day. I want to read Mel's blog and go to sleep. Or these days after being at work all day I need to finish testing recipes and writing my columns once I'm at home.

Time!!! There is no time. My cousin just got engaged and will be moving to New York (where his fiance is from) . My parents and I are the only family members that are thrilled that the wedding will be in Winnipeg and not New York because we'll actually be able to go!

I digress.

One last thing before I stop my ranting:

I was sorry to see one thing in this thread. Mel, you have to stop defending yourself!! There is no need. Some people may have issues with some of the things your saying, and while it's good to discuss these things, you don't have to defend what you feel and say. If this blog helps you vent, then vent!

Mel, you're amazing. It take a lot of guts (and other things) to do what you've done and many people don't do nearly as good a job as you have. Be proud of yourself. As your working (because I would never suggest taking time off to do so) don't forget to remember what you've accomplished. And please keep those of us who are far away and can't stop in for lunch updated on the goings-on in your life.

Thanks,

Pam

PS: How do YOU like your eggs cracked? :wink:

Edited by Pam R (log)
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THANK YOU!! Your letter meant a lot to me. It is totally true, what I write and how it is, and occaisional validation is refreshing. It is absolutely impossible to completely understand the 'business owner vs. employee who works for business owner' thing. Like men understanding what it's like to have a baby! Sure, you can say you understand, comprehend .I suppose it's like anything, after I had major surgery people would say oh yeah I feel your pain, but then you talk to those who have had the same surgery and they instantly hug you or want to cry. Iam not looking for an argument here, but this is what I have learned now that I AM THE BUSINESS OWNER. And I can look back at all the places I've worked and see things so much more clearly, from the other side. One chef would only let me buy 3 red bell peppers a day, and I kept saying what the hell?? Buy a whole case and save money! Little did I realize that when money is so tight you can't lay out enough for a case. But you have to keep up the good image or your employees will all freak out if they knew how close they were everyday to losing their jobs.

Credit cards tapped out? All 5? Personal ones too? Don't even get me started on people who bash my beloved credit cards "Oh I would NEVER do that" it's called working capital, people, and means you can pay the bills. and once you can't pay them you'll be scrambling to get as many as possible. worried it will ruin your credit? what's worse, bad credit or bankruptcy? going under? rock vs. hard place

And it is very easy to toss out advice online or in person or whatever, you should do this you should do that examples

"You should make bagel dogs!"

"You should make plain food"

"You should sell Hot Pockets"

:laugh:

Sometimes I feel the need to defend myself, not for justification, but for clarification. I hate being misunderstood, it makes me feel like I am not expressing myself clearly. I have to do it with customers too, "Why did the sticky buns go up 25 cents" because the prices nearly doubled and a case of broken pieces is $215 !!! it's like holding gold in your hand.why is that cookie $1.50, because almond paste just went up $17 a tub. Thus I like to explain.

Another funny thing that happens is people trying to barter down the prices, I swear it happens. "I'll give you $20 for that cake" sorry it's $38,,,let me have 4 for a dollar each! no I'm sorry they are $2.85 a piece! Next time I go out for a fine meal I'll offer $20 for my $40 entree and see what happens....ha.

I am indeed proud of what I've accomplished. When I am with customers and they say 'what's good' or 'what's the BEST thing here?' I say it's all good, and I can vouch for it because I wouldnt sell it otherwise! Instead of being coy or reserved about the products, I come right out and say it's fricken awesome!! or words to that effect depending on who I am talking to...

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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THem:

"How will you paying for that?"

Me:

"Well, let's try this credit card first..."

Not to be too depressing, but after 21 years we're relocating our business (we hope - as of today we have to be out of our building by July 1st and aren't ummm....sure where we are moving to yet) and it's all starting over again. Maybe I should start a thread on that one? :wink:

I'm one of those people who is always thinking that if I can just win a small lottery (when I remember to buy a ticket) that means the cards get paid off. That's all I want! it's almost sad.

In a completely non-baking related area of our business, we bring in tons of kosher products for retail. We generally offer the best prices in town (which is part of our downfall) and that's why people come to us. I cannot tell you how many times a DAY people ask for discounts. We are the CHEAPEST in town. If I discounted it I'd be selling it at a loss. Go somewhere else and ask them to discount it down to my price, then we'll talk.

On the other hand we charge $65-125 for a cake/torte and (rarely) do people hesitate to pay that. Yes, somebody walking in off the street may blink once or twice, but people who know our stuff and want it, pay. End of story.

umm... got a spare card i could borrow? :wink:

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"You should make bagel dogs!"

"You should make plain food"

"You should sell Hot Pockets"

Those comments are just priceless, aren't they? People with no clue/no business of their own are just FULL of suggestions. Among others that I've heard:

"You should be open 24 hours."

"You should make cat treats."

"You should buy pre-made/frozen items from a wholesaler"

"You should sell beignets."

"You should expand [insert geographic location]"

It's so tempting to fire back with "You should get up when we do and work a fourteen hour day five days a week, dealing with employee, equipment and supply issues, the public and aching feet. THEN we'll talk about beignets!"

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I've been surfing a sort of parallel course with Mel, smaller scale different audience maybe

I mean, I feel you and the OWNER shit!

EMPLOYEES

I deal with an employee (my sous/ dishwasher) He's awesome but arrogant, he knows I need him bad and uses it to his advantage.

And he gets paid more than I do, but I'm the Owner!

VENDORS/ SUPPLIES

I pay COD for almost everything and still the bills mount up. I drive to restaurant depot , lug the stuff back myself and what did save? pennies? its just convenient that get all differnet items in one place, but I always get stuff that wasnt on the list...

CUSTOMERS

How bout customers feeling that they dont have to pay or maybe pay half (wholesale). The customers that pay every 40 days and mount up huge bills. I know about the haggeling you deal with too- I have these older Jewish ladies that come into buy hamentashen atleast once a week ( imake them medium sized) I charge .75 a piece, one day one of my counterhelp told the lady .50 (it was her first time in the store) so shes been beating me up about it, i am so tired i just gave in and I made it work for me- I told her if she wanted them at that price I would need to see her refer some business my way (she loves that fact that I'm a good little Jewish boy from the neighborhood) and she did, they came in, slowly but they came in.

PARTNERS

Oh thats a big F---in mistake , especially good friend. Dont get me started I know all of it allready......

FUTURE PLANS

Franchise! Get paid and say it was all worth it and posiibly be able to pay for my sons college in 2019 at say a million a year?

-MEL- I just had to alittle vent and say "Keep fighting the good fight" , kidding Very proud of you and wish you the greatest of success and yes the food loves us as much as we love it

"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Thanks Brian, I know, and I have been thinking about you out there doing the same #$%*.

Yes I go to Cash & Carry once a week. I also order stuff online so it will be delivered right to my door. It is sad when you work 16 hours a day and the dishwashers make more money than you. Which so far is nothing. There are times when you think, when is this going to pay off? Is it ever? Or am I just on a slow march (yet restaurant-paced) towards death? Plus my husband does all this work too and he doesn't get paid either, which can be very wearing on him. Stress city!

It doesn't seem like it, but having a positive attitude is all we can do to make it through each day. Put each hassle behind me as quickly as possible and move on to the next. Chefs would make very good doctors-can take high pressure, work at 100 mph, stay cool in the hot seat.

STRAWBERRIES & RHUBARB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everything that isn't nailed down has strawberries and/or rhubarb on it/in it. YUM!!!!!!!!!!

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery

mel@criollobakery.com

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Well I may get out of retail entirely as I have been in talks with a larger company to help run R & D (not as glamourous as I'd like) with lots of perks $$$, travel, benefits etc...

Anyone know how to go from making hundreds of desserts to thousands?

"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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"You should buy pre-made/frozen items from a wholesaler"

:angry::angry::angry::angry::angry::angry::angry::angry:

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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Anyone know how to go from making hundreds of desserts to thousands?

Multiply your recipes by 10? :wink:

Good luck!

Or by 16 if you're not metric.

One of my favorite tricks!

Marjorie

As in, the quantities in ounces become pounds? That is a nice trick (which, as a home baker, I'll never use, but I appreciate the elegance of the math!).

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