Erin Marie G. Gonzales
Co-Owner at Bread 'N Batter Co.
I was born/grew up: Manila, Philippines. I moved to Canada in 1998 (at about 7 yrs old), and grew up in Mississauga, ON, CA. Our family moved to Milton, ON, CA in 2009, and live there to this day
I now live in: Milton, ON, CA
I completed my training/education at: George Brown College, Toronto, ON (H100 - Culinary Management)
Describe what you do at work.
- Track inventory, schedule tasks for the team to complete, coordinate/ follow up on cake orders, respond to e-mails, and monitor social media platforms, oversee employee performance
- Some science, technology, engineering or math skills I use are more in calculations and in building custom cakes. In creating recipes (modifying weights and measurements of ingredients based on their quality, type, and reaction to other ingredients). With custom cakes, believe it or not, fondant needs to be measured out by weight, based on the height, width and length of each filled tiered cake. The drum boards used as the base of the cakes differ from wood, cardboard, or styrofoam based on the height, weight, and structure of the cake. And depending on the design, type of cake, type of icing, and whether or not the cake is edible, we use dowels from steel rods covered with straw, lollipop sticks, skewers, bubble tea straws, etc as modes of support. The list goes on.
- We use dough sheeters, large volume mixers, proofers, food processors, elevated turn tables (for cakes), and ovens.
- I decorate cakes, but I also make and portion dough from scratch. It is all trayed and set aside to portion out in batches to bake, and we wait for it to rise for hours before baking.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people's lives?
My career allows me to remind others of the things that matter. It goes from the simplicity of homemade cookies and bread and cakes, to the tradition of a nice meal together as family. Sometimes, the comfort of our products bring in regulars, sharing stories of memories of homemade baked goods, and we begin to share a life together in bringing family and tradition back to life.
What motivates you in your career?
My career can be very hard, most specially as a family business. But what motivates me most is seeing how much the bakery has become another home, not just to the customers but to our employees too. The typical limitations of a regular workplace doesn't exist as much with where we are. We begin every day with a prayer, and we are pretty lenient when it comes to family. It also inspires me to see that this kind of family-like lifestyle at the bakery also brings a family-like commitment from our employees, who sometimes seem to suddenly love volunteering even on their spare time!
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
When I hit my last year of high school, I knew confidently that what I wanted to become was a chef. I didn't realize it at first, but I always carried a passion for the Culinary Arts. I never had a play house; what I wanted most was a play kitchen with fake groceries and grocery carts. And that transferred to something real as I grew older. My parents didn't see a lot of success my way in this kind of career so they looked for advice and were told to let me work in a kitchen. It was said that if I didn't like it once, I wouldn't like it again, But the moment I stepped in, I fell in love more deeply with the path I desired.
I headed off to George Brown College (known as Canada's #1 Culinary School), where the chef professors are some of the elite chefs from generations, all over the globe (from England to India, and even some celebrities here at our home land, Canada). I graduated from Culinary Management, while working in 2 different restaurants part-time, and also taking on an internship at C4 (the Royal Ontario Museum's Fine Dining Restaurant - on the FOURTH flour haha). One year after graduating, I took on being Senior Pastry Chef at (at the time) one of Top Chef Canada's Finalists from Season One's Restaurant: Trattoria Mercatto. Many years later, my mom wanted to open a bakery to specialize in home goods (Filipino). Suddenly, what they were so against at first became the greatest blessing. No one could change my mind with what I wanted to do. I knew what I wanted and I worked hard for it, and got to where I am now.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I relax by listening to country music, reading books, watching movies, and spending time with the people I love.
I still volunteer at my local church through a lay ministry called, Singles for Christ (a lay organization whose mission is to allow young professionals and young adults - as well as their families - to see that faith and life go hand in hand and is attainable to grow in together).
I still find time to enjoy physical activities such as going to the gym, hiking, kayaking, and occassionally: camping, which are all things that also bring me relaxation. I also just paint or draw for fun.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Do not be afraid of inspiration. Let your heart lead with your desires; decide with your faith and your mind. See what is possible in what seems imPOSSIBLE and you won't fail. The only failure is when you stop trying.
Erin Gonzales, Baking Entrepreneur