Monday, July 18, 2011

A Bakery Story

Walking through the glass doors of Honey’s Bakery, one finds an open and friendly atmosphere, with the sweet smells of freshly baked cake and cookies wafting through the kitchen doorway.This recently opened sweet treat shop and eatery is owned and operated by three CCBN graduates, Silvia Ballesteros, Edwin Urbina Solorzano, and Aura Maria Gutierrez Calderón.Silvia, who has taken an array of courses at the CCBN, including General Cooking, International Cooking, Cake Decorating, and Pastry Class, hatched the idea for the business. Her daughter, who died of cancer at the age of 26, registered her mother for a course at the CCBN right before she passed away as a parting gift. Now, Silvia’s own business is a tribute to her daughter, Honey.

Silvia loved her experience at the CCBN, and she tells anyone who will listen where she learned her trade. When she started out in Johanna Ocampo’s General Cooking class, she didn’t think her cooking would turn out right. But Johanna kept pushing her and telling her she could do it, and she didn’t give up. After graduating from so many courses, Silvia was set on using her skills to better her life. Now, when the bakers have a question, they call up their professors from the CCBN, and both Johanna and Marcia Santamaria are always willing to help them out. In Marcia’s courses they learned a variety of unique recipes that sell, as well as strategies that help them put their own twists on otherwise commonplace recipes. Also, Marcia’s Pastry Class is much more accessible than other such courses, some as expensive as $50, and teaches the same professional techniques.

Without any start-up capital, Silvia, Edwin, and Aura Maria brought everything they needed from home, from pots and pans to two ovens, and set-up shop in a small space they found to rent for $100 a month. While all the other places they looked at were more expensive, this amount is still quite hefty for a group starting from scratch. According to Silvia, “You’ve got to like cooking to do this, because it takes a lot of sacrifice and love. It’s a big risk, but we have faith that we will get ahead. We’re very proud of ourselves.” Often, they don’t have all the supplies they need to make certain cake molds or decorations, but their policy is to always say yes to the client and figure out how to borrow or creatively make-up the materials they lack.Sometimes they end up investing all the money from the price of the cake into the actual cake, but as Silvia says, it’s worth it because the client is happy, so they’ll come back and spread the word.

And on a personal level, Silvia says, “I used to cry everyday. But now I leave my personal problems at home and focus on the bakery’s problems. One’s emotional state affects both cake and frosting, and you can’t work under stress. I’ve been able to get off of sleeping pills, and I feel much less depressed now.” Silvia has peace because she knows Honey is watching over her beautiful work from above.

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