What’s that?! What was that I said?
Yes, my dear friends, I am pleased to announce that I have taken a leap of faith. This food blog has turned a non-baker who couldn’t whip egg whites if her life depended on it a few years ago into someone willing to take a chance in the pastry business today!
Though it would be exciting to open a full blown boutique patisserie, I opted instead to start a home baking business called Petites Bouchées (boo-chay) which means “little bites” in French. For now I am offering macarons and financiers with limited flavors since I don’t intend to quit my day job anytime soon. I’m also limiting my orders locally (Richmond, VA) until I figure out a cost-effective way to ship my products without deterioration in quality. Of course, the plan is to make money at some point so I can do this full-time.
If this venture does take off (and I’m crossing my fingers that it would) – what would this mean? A lot of late nights, early mornings (or maybe a combination of both), no weekends, and probably a lot of dvr’d shows I would never have the chance to watch (goodbye Grey’s Anatomy, goodbye Chuck). But I’m determined to give this idea a try rather than let it fester and wonder “what if?” many years down the road.
I had my doubts, believe me. Like the times when I come home after a full day of work wanting to just kick back and relax and wondered what if I had trays of macarons to make. I can’t just call my customers and say “Sorry, I’m too tired to fulfill your order”? Actually, I think my worst nightmare would be when the macarons refuse to cooperate and decide to just remain as flat as pancakes: is this when I tell my customers “The macarons have a mind of their own, they take shape in whatever form they please” ?
Those are the times when sweeping the entire idea under the rug become the most attractive route.
But the “Hungry” hubby was my pillar of strength. He totally believed in me much more than I believed in myself. But it was the little things he would do. On the weekends when I’m madly experimenting in the kitchen, he would do the laundry, water my orchids (actually they are mostly his now more than they are mine), take care of errands like pick-up and drop-off the dry cleaning or pick up lunch for me when I have no time to fix my own because I’m covered in confectioner’s sugar. Of course, he does encourage me to catch a breath of fresh air every now and then especially if I’ve been holed up in the kitchen for two days in a row.
And all he asks in return is his own batch of biscotti.
Now, I am teaching him how to beat egg whites and to pipe macarons. And I must say, he is eager to learn and I have no doubt I can appoint him sous pastry chef pretty soon he..he.
Seriously though, I owe HH a lot for what I am able to do now.
And then there’s Helen, the Daring Bakers’ guru who gave me the proper translation for “little bites” in French when I was kicking around the idea of starting a food business. She is currently my great resource for baking or business tips plus this woman knows where to find great pastry supplies! How I wish she lived closer so I can have her tame those finicky macarons whenever they start to stomp their frilly feet! She said she would move to Richmond in a heartbeat , but what was she going to do with the husband?
So how did I get started? I started with product identity. I wanted everything to be cute. I was torn between brown/robin’s egg blue and brown/pink. The latter won and I immediately contacted the one person I know who can make me a kick-ass logo: Ximena of Lobstersquad. And so it started in late October through early November of last year, we exchanged emails until finally:
She made some round labels for me too which I simply adore. Check out my business website right here.
Then there was product research and development which included sourcing high-quality ingredients and experimenting with different baking sheets. I’m also going organic as much as possible. I have found a great supplier for organic almonds from California and I use organic eggs from the local supermarket. But if any Richmond area blogger/reader can hook me up with a local certified organic farm that can provide me free–range organic eggs at a reasonable price – that would be fantastic! I’m also going to use as little food coloring as possible – enough only to identify one macaron from the other. And packaging – you all can’t believe how many yards and rolls of ribbons I have ordered or the boxes I have tried. It can get expensive and hard to keep tidy – but it was fun. To be honest I never knew how to tie a ribbon properly until I came across Martha Stewart’s craft site.
It was not all fun and tears in the kitchen though. Visits to a lawyer for business advice, accountant for financial advice and county offices were all part of the process. I officially start Feb 1st.
I told HH, that I felt like I was walking in my parent’s footsteps because they did not start our restaurant business until later in life and now my brother has taken over the reins and it was still going strong. Now whether I inherited their business and cooking genes … that remains to be seen.
And I’m not abandoning my Test Kitchen blog. Why would I, this is what got me started and inspired! In fact, I would like to do more experiments like I did with Pie Crusts . I learned a lot about my ingredients from that project. I’m thinking of one to do with chocolate right now… in what shape or form, you all have to check back later ;).