Editor’s Letter: June 2010
By Brian Hartz
First things first: I’m leaving my position as editor of Bakers Journal
in the coming months. I made this announcement on my blog at
www.bakersjournal.com in early April, but I’ll say farewell here
because I don’t yet know which issue will be my last – and I hate long
First things first: I’m leaving my position as editor of Bakers Journal in the coming months. I made this announcement on my blog at www.bakersjournal.com in early April, but I’ll say farewell here because I don’t yet know which issue will be my last – and I hate long goodbyes.
I’ll stay on for a good chunk of the summer, but I’ll be out west as my long-suffering (and -studying) wife has finished law school and landed a job in British Columbia. I don’t have to tell you that lawyers make more money than editors, but this move is about something else.
I’ve always relished the fact that I actually like what I do for a living. You can’t quantify that sense of satisfaction. During my tenure with Bakers Journal, I’ve detected that same mentality among the bakers, pastry chefs, cake designers, educators, food scientists, inventors and other hardworking professionals I’ve met while covering this industry. You not only like what you do, you love it, and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. You are compelled to create, to experiment, to nourish, to comfort, to awe, to inspire, to entertain. And you not only amaze people’s palates, you dazzle their other senses – and most of all, you educate young people and share your knowledge and expertise with your peers.
I’ve been a part of other industries where for every one person who was seriously committed to honing and promoting their craft – an “artisan,” if you will – there were a handful of others who were more than likely just in it to make a buck. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – where would we be without competition and entrepreneurship? – but sometimes we forget that every business, big or small, started with an idea, and that idea was born of someone’s passion.
Bakery Showcase has come and gone, and with the economy turning around, I trust it was a productive, worthwhile event for all who attended. In business, our day-to-day existence can be all about the numbers, but then opportunities like Bakery Showcase come along to remind us that making a living is about living – and that means being part of a community. In any enterprise, people are the engine that drives productivity, and through our interactions with each other, we gain valuable perspective on not only what we do, but why we do it and how to do it better.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ll take from my time with Bakers Journal is that with the right ingredients, equipment and knowledge, anyone – even me – can be a baker, but without the drive, curiosity and passion to create, it’s just painting by numbers. Baking requires precision, but to transform your hobby into a business, your product must be more than technically sound. You must offer the customer something that not only looks and tastes great, but you have to do it in a way that inspires confidence and trust. And you have to somehow capture that great intangible – quality – that leads to repeat business.
If someone goes to a hardware store to buy a wrench, it’s usually a pretty easy decision. Sure, there are different brands, but if you find the one that does what you need, that’s it; the deal is done. A food product, on the other hand, involves so many of our senses – and even our emotions – that making and selling food is an invariably risky business subject to ever-changing whims and tastes.
The fact that bakers have for so long been able to succeed in such a challenging business environment is a testament to the strength of this industry, and I’m thankful to have been a part of it, even for a short time.