The Difference Between Cooking and Baking Energy

When it comes to interviewing for positions, people tend to forget that it’s a two-way process. Both the interviewer AND interviewee are feeling the situation out, trying to see if they are feeling and looking for the same thing.

The idea of someone’s energy or vibe being out of sync with what an employer is looking for might sound strange in an industry where people work close but not so close. If someone comes off as “naturally” nervous or distracted interviewing for an office job, that can be shrugged off as jitters. After all, they’ll be working in their own space.

For kitchen workers, however, where the job means working in close proximity to each other for hours on end and people becoming more like family than coworkers, the energy you possess and project carries a lot more weight. A resume and even a stage might demonstrate an applicants capability, but if they come off as restless, nervous, or even creepy, a manager will think twice before jeopardizing the harmony of their kitchen and their team.

When you walk into an interview, what energy do you convey?

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40 Hours of Silence- When The Bakeshop Becomes a One-Man Show

This past week I had the kitchen to myself, and it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

With the loss of my assistant to pursue better compensation and more secure hours, the pie shop kitchen is now a one-man show until I find and hire someone else.

What makes a “chef” to me has always been their team. The chef may call the shots, train the team, find and direct the right people to build it out- but it’s the existence of the team itself that grants the chef their role. Until I have a team again, I can’t very well call myself a chef.

What am I then? Quiet most of the them. Thoughtful. Doing my best to deny the bitterness and grievance and accept that for now, my “Way of the Floured Hand” is to be found in hermitage.

What’s that been like?
Quiet and thoughtful.

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Good Food, Good Vibes, Good Business- My Dream Pie Shop

I get asked a lot of questions about my career as a baker.

Was it what I always wanted to do? (No- I remember wanting to be Indiana Jones for years.)
Aren’t the early morning hours rough? (They can be, but you eventually either get used to them, go mad, or advance far enough that you don’t have to work them anymore.)
Is it rewarding? (Absolutely.)

The most common one, however, is “do you want to run your own pie shop one day?”

The answer to that one is “…Maybe kinda?” I have kicked the idea back and forth in my head for ages, especially since I moved out to Portland and started surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs in the industry. Over post-shift beers and conversations across counters, I’ve gotten some solid insights into the life of a small business owner. It’s rewarding, and it can be fun, but it can also be a massive stressor and its own flavor of hell. You can’t really blame everything on the owner or boss, either- you know just how much of a screw-up that fella can be, but they’re trying hard.

All the same, it doesn’t hurt to dream. Between chats with other pros and a little soul-searching, I think I’ve got a good idea of what my dream shop would be like. It almost certainly won’t wind up quite like this, but I wouldn’t mind trying.

A close up of two beautifully baked tiny apple pies
Photo by Nishant Aneja on
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Invention In The Kitchen- Mad Science At Work

The idea came simply and quietly at the usual time- when I was working on something entirely different.

One of our customers asked if we made any Handpies that could meet their lower-than-usual price point. They loved our pies- as did their customers- but the rising costs of ingredients meant that for a lot of our flavors they would have to charge more than they thought their customers would tolerate.

So rather than cut off the pies completely, they asked my owner- who in turn asked me- if we had any recipes that would 1. Be delicious, 2. Be popular with customers at a cafe, and 3. Wouldn’t use too much of our more expensive ingredients so they could be sold at the desired low point.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but economics and desperation make fantastic midwives. As I went through our recipe books, checked with suppliers to see what ingredients cost what, and started spitballing ideas on our whiteboard (“Pineapple is cheap right now… a pineapple pie? What’s more expensive right now, berries or nuts? What can one person make quickly to reduce labor?”) three ideas from my past and present slammed into each other.

The father of invention had shown up, and it’s name was “Why Not?”

A pile of crispy brown nut filled pastries on a plate held aloft in a kitchen.
Behold- The Bachl-Amann!
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