The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Willing Volunteer for Chicago Baker

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westp1's picture
westp1

Willing Volunteer for Chicago Baker

Hi There,

I work in the loop in Chicago, IL. I was lucky to recieve a promotion at my firm. However, the promotion entailed switching to 3rd shift and working from 12:30am to 10:00am. Since I love baking and understand these hours are when most bakers are preparing their doughs/breads, I thought there might be a chance for me to volunteer and help out at a Chicago bakery or restaruant 1 or 2 days a week on the weekends. I bake from home but my bread baking is mediocre at best. However, I think I could provide great assistance.

Would anyone please comment if you think my search to volunteer/help a baker 1-2 nights a week is feasible?

Thanks!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Congrats on the promotion, westp1.  

You have nothing to lose by knocking on bakery doors and inquiring.

Keep in mind, however, that while a bakery owner may be delighted with your offer, the legalities of insurance requirements, health department regulations, and city laws (especially in Chicago) may present major obstacles for the owner.  

Are you offering to volunteer so you can learn to be a better baker, or because you have a passion for baking?   If the latter, think in terms of an apprenticeship or intern versus a volunteer.  That may help with the legalites.

Best of luck!

westp1's picture
westp1

Thanks for the response.

I'm offering to volunteer for both reasons: 1) to learn more about baking through offering my assistance and 2) to do something I'm passionate about-- (sourdough) bread baking. I don't think I could seek out an apprenticeship/internship because I can only offer 1 - 2 nights max per week.  That's why I figured volunteering might be the route to go.

At any rate, do you think I'll have more luck approaching full-fledged bakeries or resturants that bake their bread fresh each day?

LindyD's picture
LindyD

At any rate, do you think I'll have more luck approaching full-fledged bakeries or resturants that bake their bread fresh each day?

Well, if you think about it, the purpose of a bakery is to create various baked goods to be consumed (in most cases) off premises.  A restaurant concentrates on a variety of foods to be consumed on the premises  and probably isn't going to have much variety in bread.    Different areas of expertise.

If I were on a quest similar to yours, I'd start out by patronizing a few small bread bakeries so you can taste their product to be sure they make good bread that you enjoy eating.  Once you have a list,  start knocking on doors.   

Only reason I mention tasting is from my own experience over Easter weekend in Chicago, when I purchased a small sourdough boule from a Chicago bakery at the winter farmer's market.  It looked nice from the outside but when I cut and tasted a slice,  the crumb was really dense and the taste insipid.   Anyone can sell bread as "artisan,"  but mere labels don't constitute well made bread that has a wonderful flavor.

As an alternative, why not look into classes?  Kendall College offers recreational classes in bread baking at a reasonable price.  

Best wishes in finding something that will work with your schedule.