Page 39 - Pastry & Baking Magazine

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Inside Bakery Nouveau
Pan Bread
bakery-café concept with all products I felt appropriate. The first
couple of cafés were successful, and a couple of restaurants too.
Based on those successes, I was able to build a bakery to my
specs – my father helped me build the walk-in coolers and hang
ceilings and set the place up! The space was 2000 square feet
and we also built a retail area that was all to go – cakes, coffee,
breakfast pastry and bread. My mom would come over help
with the counter service, and it was a busy place.
My business partners ended up overextending – kind of
victims of unplanned success (a very good lesson to have early
on). I wasn’t sleeping much near the end – trying to keep up
with so much for them, and maintain a steady growth for the
bakery at hand. The inexperience showed- there was income,
but too many expenses for trying to grow, and well... it just ended
up too much, too soon.
So why Seattle?
I had a good friend who moved here – a cook with a passion for
variety – and every time I would call to see how things were in
rainy Seattle she would tell me how great it was and that the
food scene was Fantastic and on its way up! “William you must
come out to visit!” So after working like a dog for a couple of
years and being sleep deprived, I told my girlfriend we were
going on a graduation surprise get away to Seattle and she was
in! My buddy was living on the beach and was nice to sit on the
sand and watch the ferry boat go by – and of course, lots of great
seafood and some good bakeries too!
Upon returning to Arkansas, I discussed with my girlfriend,
Heather (now my wife) the idea that it’d be good for me to move
to Seattle and set up camp, with her coming out to join me after
finishing her degree in architecture. This was the final stroke
for my first bakery too- it wasn’t an easy end to that partnership,
but I learned a lot from it. After that, I packed up four boxes of
cook books and a backpack full of clothes and got on a plane!
After two weeks of sleeping in and watching ferryboats go by, I
found a job as a pastry chef for a locally famous seafood
restaurant, and things progressed from there to here.
In 1999 you spent several weeks staging in France. How
does the French approach to baking differ from the baking
business here in the States?”
I went to watch Europain 1999, watching the American baking
team take first place on the podium! After watching the baking
team win and touring the pastry shops of Paris France, my
former mentor Didier Rosada took me for an introduction to
a good friend of his who had a very busy bakery, Eric Kayser.
From that introduction I was able to do a series of stages and
good candy). I also ended up watching a lot of cooking shows
on PBS- Julia Child reruns, the Frugal Gourmet and others.
While in high school I was entertaining the thought of
culinary school, the CIA Hyde Park being the dream at the time.
However, the cold hard truth was there was no money for school.
For various reasons, I ended up quitting high school and took
the test for the G.E.D, passing with flying colors. I was already
baking and loved it- it was the best of a series of part time jobs
since about the age of 14, so I stuck with it full-time. I had real
knack for the craft and it came pretty easy too. So, everything
just kind of came together and I later came to realize that baking
and pastry was my path.
Are you formally educated in pastry/baking or did you go the
apprenticeship route? Or both?
The bulk of my learning has been through working – I guess
you could say sort of apprenticeships. I had luck with meeting
the right people, and getting jobs where I could continue to
learn. There were also continuing education courses off and on
throughout the years, such as chocolate work with Julian Rose
when he was at Barry-Callebaut in Quebec, and other pastry
and chocolate courses.
A major education experience came about after working in
Seattle in 1997– I knew I wanted to learn more, so I took a
continuing education class at the CIA Greystone taught by Craig
Pondsford (Baking World Champion 1996). After the week long
class, I asked Craig if he knew of a place in the US I could work
and find the education I so badly wanted – I knew that if I was
to be a pastry chef, I needed to continue to travel and learn and
have my butt kicked by the best. After talking with Craig, I ended
up in a new program in Minneapolis sponsored by the BBGA,
called the National Baking Center.
It was a 6 month internship program at minimum wage
(
$5.00 an hour at the time) and it was a butt kicking! Between
assisting the lecturers, doing prep work and continuing my
personal studies and work, I lost 50 pounds and learned what
tired’ really meant, but I was also steeped in practice, technique,
technology and discipline. There was more than enough
information to chew for a few years!
You opened your first bakery at the age of 19!? Wow! How’d
that go?
I was working for a brand new brewing company that had just
opened in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Two restaurants and the kitchen
were mine all night, so I had room and time to make what I
wanted to make. It helped that I basically had carte blanche.
My work was getting some notice by local eaters, and I was
introduced to a couple of first-time restaurateurs. We signed an
agreement for opening a bakery to supply their coffee house and