Facing Your Dreams (Why A Chemist Becomes A Baker)

I’ve loved science from the beginning. It’s pretty much been a love/love relationship from the start.

My mom tells this story about how, when I was 1 ½ years old, I learned how to climb out of my crib one night. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a big mixing bowl, I grabbed an egg and relish from the fridge, and then grabbed the bottle of Prell shampoo from the bathroom. I mixed it all together and proceeded to rub it everywhere, including all over myself. She argues that that was when she knew I was smart. Maybe that was the budding chemist inside of me 😉

me_w_ball1980

Budding Baker/Chemist

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Marie Curie when I grew up. I played chemist with my friends at an early age. We made some cool looking mixtures with flammable things that I now know are dangerous (luckily no one ever got hurt). Looking back, when I made the choice to go into science and study chemistry, it made sense. And I’ve had a great and rewarding career as a scientist.

But I didn’t come from a sciencey family. Growing up I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom and my grandmother. I mean literally. When my mom couldn’t find a babysitter for my brother and I, we would go into work with my mom. She happened to work in the kitchen of a restaurant. Fortunately for her, my brother and I were excellent silverware washers 🙂

My grandmother worked in a diner at 5th and Penn in Reading, PA. She worked the counter so she was the short order cook and the server.

grammy_diner2

Grammy at 5th and Penn

My mom started as a cook at a small restaurant chain in PA and worked her way up to general manager. They chose her to open their newest and biggest restaurant.

I started working for a restaurant supply company at the age of 14. When I was 16, I worked in my mom’s restaurant as a cook. It turns out that my great-grandmother (my mom’s mom’s mother) was a baker. Truthfully, I believe it is in our blood.

graduation

Three Generations – Mom, Me, and Grammy

So growing up, even when not in a restaurant, I was in the kitchen with my mom and/or my grandmother learning how to cook and bake. I love to cook and thinks it’s a lot of fun, but baking is a spiritual experience for me. It connects me to my earliest memories of baking Christmas cookies with my mom and my grandmother; it calms me when I’m over stressed; it brings me joy (when the recipe turns out well); and it even plays into my scientist brain (working on a new recipe is an experiment!).

Though I am a scientist, I have also dreamed of being a baker. I have baked on the side and sold specialty baked items (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, etc.) for the past 5 years. My fiancée and I have talked about what it would take to open a bakery. So in August, when I was connected with someone looking for a baker to open a gluten-free bakery (my specialty), facing my dream became a reality.

So what would you say if someone was willing to pay you a salary to follow your dream? Of course the answer is YES!!!!!

That’s not to say that it’s a not bit scary to leave everything that I know to start this new adventure. I mean, we’re moving to Georgia (where I know maybe 3 people), my fiancée is moving away from his business, and I’m leaving a successful career in science.

But when your dream comes a knocking, the only thing to do is jump in both feet. Keep your eyes open for Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Bakery outside of Atlanta in 2016!

– Nicole

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5 Responses to Facing Your Dreams (Why A Chemist Becomes A Baker)

  1. Aileen Mooney says:

    The owner of The Happy Tart in Del Ray Alexandria used to be an immunologist. You guys should chat!

    Aileen

  2. Pamela McGonigal says:

    Congratulations to you both!

  3. so proud of you and your decision!

  4. ying says:

    I can’t believe my eyes but I am very happy for your new life and admire much.

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