Reflections and lessons
By Laura Aiken
After nearly seven years as the editor of Bakers Journal, I have moved to a different group within the magazine’s parent company. Naomi Szeben, a passionate home baker and experienced journalist and researcher, will be taking the reins.
Naomi holds a master’s degree in research and is a former senior editor for Entrepreneurs in Canada. I have been working with Naomi through this transition, and her kindness, dedication and enthusiasm will be a perfect fit in an industry that I have experienced nothing less in.
Change is the real spice of life, and although this departure is a change I chose, it is still sad to say good-bye. There are many things I will miss about the bakery industry; most certainly the people (I can’t complain about my luck with all the treats either). I have worked in a number of industries in my career and each have taught unique lessons. Here are some of my favourites from the world of baking.
The capacity for human reinvention is endless: Having interviewed countless baking entrepreneurs over the years, I still marvel at the how many stories involve someone in a totally different line of work crossing over and finding success as a baker. Perhaps they started by taking cookies to work that people really liked, or they found themselves divorced and needing to start over. Our cover line says “an accidental baker finds her path”, and that cover line could have been used many a time before. Bakers are some of the world’s ultimate re-inventors, driven by an internal quest for creativity and self-fulfillment that opens the oven door.
Try — and then try, try, try, try again: As ‘mad scientists’ in the kitchen, bakers could teach the world a thing or two about failure. It’s one thing working to keep a business afloat, and another tweaking a recipe innumerable times to perfect it. Bakers have taken on the challenge of vastly improving gluten-free and vegan products, along with changing formulas to reflect morphing consumer preferences in ingredients. These changes to formulation would never have happened at the fast pace they did without the tenacity of bakers.
The meaning of passionate work: When people are passionate about their work, they have too much pride and care for what they are doing to put out a crummy product. Quality is not a choice; it’s a compulsion. It’s no surprise bakers reinvent themselves or exhibit a high degree of perseverance, for it’s been my observation that so many truly care about the service they are providing in the world. Bakers believe in the efficacy of food to bring nourishment and joy to their customers, family and friends. I have met many bakers who truly love their work and acquire much satisfaction from the inherent act of baking, but the stories they tell are all about the customers; the people benefitting. People need food to live, and providing it, with all the long hours and sweat equity typically demanded of those who do, is a commitment of great generosity.
Naomi is lucky to have found herself amongst such fine and talented people. As I go forward in embracing the many changes of my spring, I do it with the benefit of all the lessons, nourishment and joy the baking industry has provided me. Thank you!