Newbie to the boards, pastry chef opening my own bakery

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by lucie stone, May 15, 2012.

  1. lucie stone

    lucie stone

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    Professional Pastry Chef
    Hi everyone. I'm new here. Quick intro: I'm a self-taught pastry chef from Knoxville, TN. I'm in the process of (finally!) opening my own bakery. I've been selling my breads and pastries for several years, and demand has finally gotten to the point where I can justify a retail storefront to go along with the business-to-business and wholesaling I've been doing. If construction continues on schedule, I'll be open in early July. 

    So, as a newbie to the retail and wholesale pastry world, I have a few questions I hope you guys might be willing to help me answer. I have background in hotels and hospitality, but I've never worked in a professional kitchen, and definitely never a bakery shop or pastry kitchen. I'm starting to plan out my baking schedule for the kitchen and I realize I haven't much idea how a bakery kitchen's schedule runs. Could anyone offer me a quick snapshot of their kitchen's day to help me get myself a little more organized? 

    Thanks so much! (I've also cross-posted this in the Professional Chefs Forum as well. I hope that's ok.)
  2. chefross


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    Former Chef

    It depends on what you want to do.

    If you will sell doughnuts and breakfast items, the schedule for production would start at around 2:00 a.m.

    You'll need that time to process yeast raised doughs and to make the cake doughnuts....(if you're going that route)

    On the other hand....if you are going to be just breads, pastries, cookies, cakes, etc.......maybe not.

    I have experience in both. A typical day started at 2:00 am where I came in to start the yeast raised doughnuts and a few bread doughs.

    By 5:00 am I am standing in front of a vat of fryer grease plopping cake doughnut batter from a hand held rotating machine.

    By 6:00 am the sales girls were in to frost and finish items for sale when we opened at 7:00.

    Like I depends.
  3. jcakes


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    Professional Pastry Chef
    Congratulations, and good luck!  It might be helpful to get a book on the subject; maybe something like A Baker's Trade or The Baker's Trade by Zachary something - I bought the book about 10 years ago but don't think I have it anymore so my apologies because I could have the name wrong.  It might help to answer some questions, see if your library has it and you can skim it and see if there is anything useful for you.

    If you've been baking breads and things for a few years now, you have an idea of how to make up your production schedule, when things need to be done, what has to be done in advance, what your staples are (and I mean things like pastry cream, simple syrup, caramel, lemon curd,  browned butter) what your inventory needs to be for dry goods, dairy, packaging, etc.  Hopefully you have developed good habits for labeling and dating things, because once you have employees, everyone needs to be religious about this so you don't waste anything.   Make up a list of tasks that need to be done at the start and the end of the day, keep those posted on the wall in a clear protective cover.  Start a notebook for everything you need to keep track of so it is in one place (phone list/account numbers for all of the places you buy from; taking temps for your coolers and freezers, a sanitizer log, pest control log, grease trap cleaning, etc).  Make a copy of all of the formulas in your bakery and keep them somewhere safe (outside the bakery) just in case your recipe book is lost or stole.  Make each recipe its own page, in a clear protective cover.  Decide how you want the format to be and try to have all the recipes follow this convention.  - we have the original recipe as it was published or given, then columns for how it is scaled up by 2x, 3x, etc - I use excel for some of the things like cookie doughs, curds, tart fillings (if I have "make 15 raspberry almond tarts" no one has to waste time calculating how much to scale up the almond cream recipe for) and cheesecakes.

    Always have enough inventory to get by - keep a white board so people can write down when they use the next to last item so it can be reordered and you aren't running out of trash bags or 10" cake boards at the worst possible time.

    Post the week's schedule (what is going out when) in a central place and update it daily.

    Don't waste anything.  Find a way to use everything - those cake balls that are so popular now are really just a reincarnation of "rum balls" when everything except perishable things (custards, cheesecake) went into the scrap bucket and got a second life :)  Over time you will see sales trends and know how to adjust your production to match what and when people are buying (Mondays are slow compared to Friday; keep track of community events that will bring more walk in traffic to your storefront, offer a percentage of sales to local school PTOs to drive sales; be careful about the use of coupons and promotions otherwise you are training your customers to wait for your coupon in order to buy from you).

    Put $ aside so when it is slow (like, Jan-Feb-March when everyone is recuperating from the Halloween to New Years binging) you can still pay your bills and your staff.

    There's a lot more that others will be able to suggest; good luck!
  4. chefdave11

    chefdave11 Banned

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    Professional Chef
    Hey Lucie,

    If construction's on time, you're not open yet.

    Understanding that you may be very talented and "good at what you do", but that you've had no professional experience, I think your biggest challenge will be adjusting from "baking out of the house", to running a business and a professional bakeshop.  There are so many new facets that you're going to have to deal with, and without spending a significant amount of time working in the trenches of another bakery, there's no real way for you to prepare for them.  Hopefully business will be good enough that you'll be able to cover up the mistakes you make along the way, of which you need to be prepared to not let them get you down.  Having a strong mental and emotional fortitude will be what helps you and your business survive over the next year or two.

    Plan on trial and error and making adjustments as needed.

    Oh, and when you hire people, you better make sure they have enough (quality) professional experience to make up for what you lack.  If you had only spent 6 months working for nothing in a pastry kitchen in a hotel or large restaurant, you would be so much better than you can ever hope to be.  There's so much to learn from other people, other systems.  If your product truly is good, then I hope you make it in the business.  And if it's not, or your business fails, then you got caught up in an ill-conceived plan.