bakery whips up tasty treats
Wilson Craig can decorate a cake in a matter of minutes.
first thing that hits you is the divine, cinnamon-sweet bakery aroma.
The kind that, if it ever got into a building's central air system,
would cause sudden and massive absenteeism as inhabitants rushed
out to satisfy instant cravings.
for the rest of the University, the main bakery at the Fontana Food
Center is hidden at the heart of the off-Grounds facility on Old
Anderson, left, and Jim Swift, prepare balls of pizza dough.
The two bakers have 66 years of service between them.
pleasant atmosphere masks a very productive operation. At one table
in the huge kitchen, Jim Swift and Dan Anderson -- who have 66 years
of service between them -- prepare balls of pizza dough as pop music
eases from a nearby stereo. Across the way, Nancy Garrison prepares
apple turnovers; nearer, Wilson Craig holds a cake aloft with one
hand while using the other to slather it with sweet, creamy frosting.
Further down the line, Mary Ali wheels sheets of cookies from a
walk-in "rack" oven and wraps them for distribution to
the various dining facilities on Grounds.
this day it is still early August; soon, the five-person day shift
will double, and a four-member night crew will be added to meet
the demand when the students arrive for the fall semester.
they hit full production, the workers' daily output is staggering:
up to 250 dozen bagels, 300 dozen donuts, 230 bar-type desserts
(like brownies), 190 dozen cookies, 50 dozen breakfast pastries
-- the list goes on and on. Cakes. Pies. Biscuits. Breads. Rolls.
Cobblers. The whole menu of offerings goes on for 13 mouth-watering
pages. You can put on 10 pounds just reading it.
guys work extremely hard," says Darryl Rudge, director of bakery
operations for ARAMARK, which runs the facility. The employees he
supervises are a mix of state and ARAMARK workers, as some incumbents
opted to stay with the state system when Dining Services was privatized
several years ago.
Ali readies a sheet of chocolate-chip cookies for transport
to Grounds. Ali says that after seven years at Fontana, she
is no longer tempted by the center's tasty treats, but warns,
"if you're new, you can eat yourself silly."
calls Rudge a "scratch person,"meaning that he prefers
to make all the products from scratch, rather than use frozen batters
and dough. That approach seems popular in the bakery. "A lot
of the frozen stuff doesn't turn out the way it's supposed to,"
Ali said. "Scratch tastes better."
from scratch make a better product," agreed Swift.
the products receive a lot of personal attention, much of the process
is automated. The long, rectangular room -- mostly white, but trimmed
with burgundy tile -- is arranged to maximize efficiency. "It
has to flow with the amount of volume we have," Rudge says.
one end, near the supply rooms, there's a line of mixers, one with
a 120-quart capacity, the other three, 90. Various flours and other
ingredients are carefully measured out before they become dough
products require more hands-on treatment, like the apple turnovers
Garrison folds and crimps and the pizza balls that Swift and Anderson
shape at tables in the center of the room. Others are almost completely
mechanized; therešs an automatic cookie depositor here, a bagel-making
machine there, and a whole donut-making assembly line over there.
interesting piece of equipment is the "sauna," where yeast
doughs are placed to speed the rising process. The kitchen is pleasantly
air-conditioned, to keep the yeast from prematurely fermenting;
the sauna is basically a box where the conditions are kept at a
summer-like 100 degrees and 92 percent humidity.
considerably hotter at the far end of the room, which features both
the afore-mentioned walk-in convection oven, and a bank of conventional
ovens. There's also another assembly-line area for preparing the
end products for transport on Grounds, reminiscent of the famed
"Lucy" episode in which Lucy Ricardo is overwhelmed by
a speedy conveyor belt and ends up stuffing her mouth and clothes
doesn't seem to have much of a problem passing on the delicious-looking
treats that come her way. "Once you see everything and taste
it, you get tired of it," she said. "But if you're new,
you can eat yourself silly."
in here likes hot bread and butter," said Swift, who often
makes an extra loaf for internal distribution.