Despite being in professional baking for only four years, this baker for Publix Markets has translated her experience into award-winning pies.
How did you get your start in baking?
I started baking when I was ten years old. I wanted to make the cookie recipe on an oatmeal cannister. I learned to bake a lot from scratch while in training as a missionary. I lived in remote areas where if you didn't bake it yourself, you wouldn't get to eat it. So I had high motivation. I started cake decorating in 1999 and in bakery professionally with Publix in 2006.
Who do you consider your professional mentor and why?
I have had several influential people in my life. It's hard to pick one. My father, who had a sixth grade education, was my main influence. He was born into a poor Mexican family. He learned a trade, and through passion, persistence and focus was able to successfully run a pattern and grading business for more than 25 years in Los Angeles, where I was born. He's not here now, but what he taught me will always be with me.
What do you enjoy most about baking and your job with Publix?
I love to create high-quality baked products that specifically meet our customers' needs. Consistently beautiful and delicious baked products are the hallmark of Publix Bakery. What I love about my job with Publix is the opportunity to meet a food problem with the perfect baked food solution. Making customers happy and exceeding expectations is my goal.
What do you find most challenging as a baker?
Baking to me is a joy. I don't find it challenging in any way. You will run into daily opportunities, but honestly, I love what I do, and I'm a problem solver; just figure it out.
When did you begin participating in the National Pie Competition and why?
I began competing in the National Pie Competition before working for Publix in 2006. I entered as an amateur and won Best of Show with a cherry pie. The prizes included $5,000 and an oven. I entered with my best friend because we wanted to win the huge gift baskets. We had basket envy. We love competing and have also entered the National Gingerbread Competition together. The main reason I love competition is because I love a challenge.
What are the benefits of participating in the competition?
Through competition you grow and develop your skills. You invent new ideas through trial and error and stepping outside of what most people consider normal. Also, you meet a lot of great people who have the same passion for baking as you do. Competition challenges your thinking and requires strategy and ingenuity. It is personally stimulating because the rewards are not only in the ribbons and prize money, but in a sense of accomplishment.
What advice do you have for other professional bakers who might be thinking about entering the competiton?
Do it. The most challenging part of competition is making yourself do it. Once you start researching and practicing your enthusiasm will build. You begin to anticipate the competition. If you lack passion for your job, spice it up with competition.
What is your favorite pie to eat? To bake?
It's a toss up between banana cream pie and coconut cream pie. I love to bake fruit pies and classic pies. New-fangled pies with crazy ingredients are not for me.
If you weren't a baker, what would you be?
If I wasn't a baker, I would love to be a host on a food show. I love teaching people how to cook and bake. Food brings people together, and I love to have a part in that.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time, when I have some, I love to watch reality shows. I guess it's because they are competition based. I love to cook food for my children and friends. I enjoy celebrating every holiday and making goodies to share. I love people and spending time with them.