Friday, October 29, 2010

Women of Wonder: Mission #3


The theme for this week was Rediscover Your Dreams. I was to do this by getting some hands on experience with a local baker. After finding this out, I was on Cloud 9! This is right up my alley, and couldn’t fit me better. I called Stephen and my parents right away to let them know. WonderBra helped me out by getting into contact with a local bakery and arranging for me to go in and help out for a bit.

This is when the doubt set in. It’s no secret that I love to bake, but I’m a very amateur baker. For every success, I have at least 2 failures. There’s so much that I just don’t know. I’d be going in and working with people who do this every day. So yeah, I was a little bit nervous.

Rustic Sourdough {Photo taken from here.}

I showed up to Rustic Sourdough Bakery bright and early (8am) last Saturday, and met the owner, Jos Rehli. He quickly introduced me to an employee that I would be spending a couple of hours with; Natacha. I’d be spending my two and half hours with a pastry girl, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I loved working with Natacha! She was so friendly and willing to answer my questions. Unfortunately, she had done most of her work earlier in the week, so I didn’t have the chance to get to see a whole lot, other than putting together a few cakes. Doesn’t matter though, because I still took a lot away from the experience. I loved hearing her stories from when she worked in other bakeries, and even about the time she baked a friend’s wedding cake. I spent so much time just drinking in my surroundings; the heavy duty KitchenAid on our work table, the bread oven at the end of the aisle, and the Madagascar Vanilla on the shelf off to my side. None of it escaped my sight.

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Natacha made me get over my fear of messing up and let me help out with this beauty:

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I sampled a little bit of that mousse by the way, and it was delicious! As was the freshly baked cheese bun that I had…

Natacha and Jos didn’t want to be on camera (for fear of causing massive line ups at the bakery when people realize how ridiculously good looking they are), but Natacha did let me make a little video of her decorating a mocha buttercream cake.
(side note: This is my second time ever editing a video, and I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet. So please, bear with me! And forgive me for the song repeating and then stopping part way through. So much stress!)

October 24 033The finished cake! I added the little coffee beans. I’m so proud of my addition!

I did get the chance to ask Jos a few questions through an email though.

How long have you been baking, and what first got you interested?

I started baking in my parents bakery, some 56 years ago back in Switzerland. I guess I had no choice back then...

What made you decide to open up Rustic Sourdough Bakery?

Rustic is a bakery with 40 years of tradition on the same location. It was called Chalet Bakery when it opened in 1970. I bought the business 5 years ago.

What has been the hardest part of owning a bakery?

The very long hours and staffing issues are the biggest challenges.

What has been the most enjoyable part of owning a bakery?

Dealing with people, employees as much as customers. Being able to create new products and seeing happy customers buying them.

Do you have any advice for home bakers like me who have entertained the idea of someday opening a bakery of their own?

Experience is the most important thing. Learn, learn, learn, it never ends. I am still learning every day.

Jos is a Swiss Master Baker and Master Pastry Chef, so I take great comfort in the fact that he is still learning every day! I absolutely loved getting a glimpse into the world of a bakery, and it’s made me realize that I need to take my dreams of baking a lot more seriously. I can’t just passively let those dreams slip by, otherwise I have no hope of ever getting to where Jos is now.

Thank you Jos and Natacha for putting up with me last Saturday, I learned so much from both of you!

To find out more about the Women of Wonder campaign, check out the WonderBra facebook page here.

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