The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does experience in a small bakery count?

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anniemcc's picture
anniemcc

Does experience in a small bakery count?

Hi Everyone!


Like many other posters, I'm exploring the possibility of professional baking, but I have some uncertainties about how to start.  I'm about to end my current position as an americorps volunteer at a farm/ residential community for disabled adults, and I'm looking for my next step.  The community has a small bakery where I have been one of the head bakers for over two years and the manager of the bakery and of work crews for about six months.  We bake bread only three days a week, producing about 80-100 loaves a week.  All of our loaves are sandwhich loaves, including whole wheat variations, sweet white breads, and sourdough, and we hand-mix all of our dough.  I love everything about the process of baking, and I want to learn more- especially about sourdough and artisan breads- with the dream of being a professional baker and one day having my own bakery.  My question, though, is whether my experience in this small bakery is enough to start looking for jobs in professional bakeries, or if it would be better to get more education first.  The variety of bread I've baked has been somewhat small, and I know that there are a lot of differences in size and scale between this bakery and many other professional bakeries, and I don't want to overestimate my experience.  I would love to hear from bakery owners and other professional bakers about how much and what kind of experience they look for in new employees.


Thank you.


Ann

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Ann,


Experience is experience no matter where it comes from.  As for whether or not you have adequate experience for a particular job or duty,  that can only be determined by you.   Remember if you wait until you are completely ready to do something, you will never do anything.  So worry not and go forth,


Jeff


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

In addition to Jeff's good advice, you might take a look at the Bread Bakers Guild of America, the professional organization for artisan bakers.  Membership includes access to their excellent electronic discussion group, among other things.


The BBGA classified section is available for anyone to view and will give you an idea of what some bakeries are looking for.


Best wishes for your success!

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Ann,


Baking as a profession isn't the easiest job in the world but it certainly has a high degree of job satisfaction in terms of productivity, artistic expression, as well as customer appreciation, to name just a few positives of the craft.


What I look for when I have a new baker or assistant come on the floor is how they work with their hands. Are they able to work with both hands? Might sound silly, but I'm constantly amazed at how many supposedly experienced workers I see, with or without baking experience, that haven't learned how to use both hands simultaneously. Hand work is the basis that craft and other styles/forms of baking largely rely on. I work in a shop that has a lot of various equipment to speed up production, but if I didn't have the basic hand skills to make bread without them I couldn't really think of myself as a baker. Learn to mix, scale, mold, drop batter by hand, and you'll be able to work in most any bakery.


Best Wishes,


Franko


 

bigyellowbandit's picture
bigyellowbandit

Franko, I have read alot of people here who dont seem to know much about professional baking. You stand out. Quick... I went to culinary school to be a chef, found baking amazing.... so here is my question.


 


I have already taken on the pastry/bread responsabilities at work, minor to some  but I seem to do well. 


I want to approach my bosses with brining in new breads for their customers, i/we currently make eppis by 8 lbs batches (flour weight).


My issue is I am not sure how to approach seasoned chefs (not bakers) with ideas. When we switched flours to a higher grade a few months back, I noticed issues right away and brought it to everyones attention. I was allowed to "fix" the formula. Doing so I made a few liberal adjusmens in it and well, we run through what I now make almost every night. :)


I would love to start adding a second bread to our presentation, but not sure how to approach it. Preferably I would like to add a sour dough, but realize an old dough would be easier to start and follow through with for other people if for some reason I am not there. We are open 6 days, I am there most of them, one extra day off every couple weeks.


We are a mid level establishement, mostly three course meals with entress between $20 and $40, plus deserts.


 


thank you if you read this,


trying to make something better of myself

Franko's picture
Franko

 


First off my apologies for not getting back to you sooner than this.


If I'm understanding your question correctly it's about how to introduce a new product to your chef for inclusion on his menu. Most of the chefs that I've worked with are impressed by flavour and presentation first. Once you have their attention, the cost factor is next of course, so it's up to you to study your chef's menu and find room for the cost of whatever bread you'd like to introduce. Show your chef how your bread can compliment a menu item and not significantly increase the cost of the dish, or the kitchen's overall food and labour cost. Ideally you want to maintain or even reduce the present overall food cost. If the quality of the bread is consistently high and the numbers work for your chef, this is likely your best way to approach the problem.


All the best with your endeavour,


Franko

mimifix's picture
mimifix

Greetings Ann,


Whenever I posted a help wanted sign my bakery was flooded with aplications. I found that "professional" bakers were only as good as their kitchen sense (sort of like common sense). Many times I skipped the "professional" and hired someone who seemed genuinely interested in bakery work. 


When you have an interview, bring your resume and a couple of your homemade products. That will show your true interest.


Good luck, Mimi