Condra Easley once assumed that she’d make a horrible boss and trainer.
“I never thought I was very good with people, I found training to be hard because I didn’t like to feel like I was bossing people round,” Easley says.
|Creating Patisserie Angelica’s high-end cakes and pastries required owner Condra Easley to organize her training materials.|
After owning her own business, Patisserie Angelica in Sebastopol, Calif., she more than came into her own in the training department. She has since taught her craft at the highest level, including baking and pastry programs at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif., and has trained her own staff to create the ultimate in high-end wedding cakes and specialty pastries. The transformation occurred after Easley discovered that being the boss didn’t always translate to being bossy.
“It’s all about organization,” she says, “If you look at a place like McDonalds, many times they have people that don’t stay that long. They need to have awesome training programs, so people can just fly right through and be ready to go early on.”
Easley harnessed the organized chaos of her bakery by creating an explicit set of procedures for every scenario. She made it so that people can go by the book–her book–in addressing potential problems. New employees at Patisserie Angelica are provided with a training notebook, and they are encouraged to take notes for reference, so there’s never any question as to what they are supposed to do.
“Even so much as our dish area, we keep that organized, too, one board for draining, another for clean dishes,” she says. “I have so many people who have worked for me thank me for teaching them organizational skills, and I tell them if nothing else, you’ll be a neat freak and be highly organized.”
But the requisite creativity for high-end wedding cakes doesn’t rely on organization alone. Easley believes that another key in training is being free with information and tricks of the trade. She trained in Paris, where people were open with information, and she hopes to replicate that kind of dialogue between trainers and trainees.
“I don’t hold info back, I try to give them all the information they need to make them successful,” she says. “There are so many people who are so secretive about wedding cakes, like they have to guard some method. Well sorry to say, it’s already been done.”