Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts students rise to the occasion with pop-up bake shops

Although the weather outside was cold and blustery, spring was definitely in the air on Saturday, April 9 at Durham College’s (DC) Centre for Food (CFF). That’s because teams of students in the Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts program used spring as their theme for three different pop-up bake shops, selling sweet treats to an appreciative crowd of students and visitors.

The pop-up shops were the result of a semester-long capstone project that marked the culmination of all the learning experiences the students had acquired during the program. The students spent an average of 25 to 30 hours in the kitchen labs preparing a variety of sweet and savoury baked goods, confections and preserves. In addition, students were responsible for the marketing, budgeting, packaging and decision-making for all elements of their pop-up bake shop. Using the skills they had acquired in the program, students successfully created the products, determined how they would be displayed, created a pricing strategy and used their sales skills to encourage customers to make purchases. 

For Jeremy Wong and his teammates at the Spring Fever Bakery, the competition was an opportunity to “share their passion” for good food and pastry, and to work on his sales and customer service skills.

“It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve made a lot of items using spring fresh ingredients,” said Wong. “Our goal is to sell out of all of our products and to show off our skills to both our customers and our professors.”

Student Marie Owen and her Patisserie Noir team chose the theme “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and featured a variety of hand-dipped chocolates and other sweet treats, packaged in attractive black-trimmed wrapping. Owen said that as exhausting as it can be to prepare and package all of their products, the final results always make it worthwhile.

“I enjoy baking and making things so much, that I have to remind myself to remember to take the money from customers,” she said with a laugh.

Student baker Suzette Kearns and her team from the Spring Flour Bakery featured a mixture of sweet and savoury items at their shop, including products that used edible pansies produced by DC’s Horticulture – Food and Farming students from the CFF’s gardens exclusively for this event. Kearns and her team were relieved they’d reached the final stage in their course work, and she said they enjoyed the challenge of selling their wares directly to the public.

“I spend most of my time at the back of the house, baking things and working in the kitchen,” she said. “It’s a nice change to sit down and work out the prices for our products, develop a theme for our pop-up shop and really get into the business side of things.”

“I’m really proud of all three student teams and the work they did for their final projects,” said Chef Tanya Heck, professor at the CFF. “The presentation and quality of all the students’ work shone through at this event and I’m pleased all of them were virtually completely sold out of their products by the end of day. It was truly a great effort.”