Appetizers
February 16, 2011
Grange's pastry chef looking for the next opportunity

By Blair Anthony Robertson
brobertson@sacbee.com

Elaine Baker, the highly regarded pastry chef at Grange Restaurant, is looking for work.

The position at Grange has been eliminated and Baker, whose many dessert creations distinguished the restaurant, isn't wasting any time looking for new challenges.

Freelance work? Baking classes? Catering? Writing?

Baker is getting the word out that she's open to those things and more.

"I'm just kind of seeing what opportunities come my way. I had one of the best pastry chef jobs in the city. It was fabulous," she told me Wednesday when we chatted by phone.

I didn't get into what happened. Instead, we talked about baking for a living and what she might do next. Just to give readers an insider's view of this line of work, I asked Baker about the demands, the long hours, the physical toll it takes, especially with discerning customers typical of a high-end restaurant like Grange.

"There is a lot of pressure. You need to stay on top of the trends. You need to do things that compliment the overall menu that the chef has. It's very exciting," Baker said.

While viewers of the Food Network might get the impression that it's a glamorous occupation, Baker says it's pretty much 12-hour days, you're on the feet all the time and the schedule you work can be tough on families and relationships.

Baker was an original employee at Grange, starting there two years and four months ago.

When I mentioned the popularity of baking classes in town, Baker said it's something she is considering as she plots her next career move.

"Some people make it sound so mysterious and difficult. It would be nice to show people how simple it can be," she said.

Baker graduated in 1999 from the Culinary Institute of America's baking and pastry arts program. Before Grange, she worked at Firehouse Restaurant.

Anyone interested in discussing opportunities with Baker can contact her via email, efrancetic@yahoo.com.

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