The Baker and the Antique Expert
December 3, 2007
By Chase Stackhouse
Chase Stackhouse finds a new use for old bakery equipment.
I tend to be a bit of a pack rat. I find it difficult to throw things away. You never know, one day that tossed item may just come in handy.
Well a few years ago, that’s just what happened. While I was spring-cleaning one day, I came across a well-worn beater from a Hobart 80-quart mixer. It had completed years of mixing and the visible scars from a number of visits to the machine shop for repairs were evident. The truth is, I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. It had been, in a sense, a part of the family for years and had mixed countless batches of cookies, pie pastry and cake batter. I thought to myself that perhaps it might make a nice lamp.
I first sprayed the old beater a nice antique brass and then mounted it on a piece of maple hardwood in the inverse position, so that the top became the bottom. An old lamp no longer in use (but still in the basement) provided me with the bulb socket, harp and wiring. To finish off my creation, I topped it with a suitable shade and sat it in my living room in a prominent position, providing both light and, of course, a source for sparking conversations. It was surely one-of-a-kind and definitely an appropriate lamp to find in a baker’s house.
One Sunday afternoon, a number of friends (all white collar workers) came by for a visit, most of them knowing little or nothing about the bakery business or the equipment used therein. We began with some polite conversation and then, after a period of silence, the focus shifted to my newly placed lamp. The antique expert in the crowd, as he was known by many, looked with interest at the lamp and said, “Definitely antique … from a Jewish tradition … probably valuable.”
I almost didn’t have the heart to tell the truth and reveal the mystery behind my creation.
“No,” I said, “you’re wrong. In fact, it is a beater from an old 80-quart Hobart mixer.”
Strangely enough, both the visit that day and the conversation came to an abrupt end. Sometimes, even a crafty baker can fool the experts!
Chase Stackhouse is the pen name for a New Brunswick-based bakery owner. If you have any comments or questions for Mr. Stackhouse, please send them to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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