After working as executive pastry chef for restaurants Meauxbar, Sylvain and Cavan, Ruby Bloch launched a solo career last year. She now runs a pastry and dessert delivery business (www.saltandlightpastryco.com) out of her Bywater apartment and recently competed on Food Network's Spring Baking Championship, which airs at 8 p.m. March 12. Bloch spoke with Gambit about her business and her experience with reality television.
How does being a solo baker differ from directing pastry operations for a restaurant group?
Bloch: I'm currently in an entrepreneur course. Business stuff is intimidating, but I'm learning something new. I am surprised by how much word-of-mouth business I've been getting, which is awesome. I just launched my website a week ago, and I've been trying to go slow and steady building this — being as thoughtful and intentional as I can. It's been really wonderful to see how people reach out for my work even though I haven't really started promoting and marketing yet.
(The business is) kind of like the things that I was doing in the restaurant. Outside of the regular menus, we would have events all the time. People would order specialty cakes and macaroons and dessert tables. I really loved that aspect of the job, so essentially I'm doing that. It's all order-based and I get either emails or there's an inquiry (form on) my website where I customize things for people and bring it to them.
I'm not as interested in doing orders for other bakeries and restaurants, but I've been working with brides a lot and event planners. I like the diversity of it.
I was in restaurants for six years, and there's definitely so much that's great about it. I wouldn't have any of the skills I have now if I hadn't done it. In growing and learning from my last job, seeing what I like to do the most, I'm trying to do it on my own. But it's been rewarding so far.
What was it like competing on a reality television food show?
B: I had a very positive experience. I wouldn't have thought of this ahead of time, but getting to know other pastry chefs from around the country was one of the biggest blessings I could have. It was life-changing, being around people who are doing similar things to me, but not the same. Everyone came from different pastry backgrounds, and while the competition was one of the most intense experiences of my life, the people that I met through it — I just grew so much from getting to know them and being around them.
It was so difficult. I tried not to have too high expectations for myself. I just wanted to go and have as much fun as I could and just try and do the things that I feel represent me. So, it was definitely hard, but fun — especially more in retrospect. In the midst of it, it's pretty jarring.
Was it cutthroat, or was it more like The Great British Baking Show?
B: It was definitely more competitive than The Great British Baking Show, but at the same time it was a really fun and friendly competition. Everyone wanted to do their best, and no one wants to go home because they did something horrible. There was no yelling. There were a lot of puns, which I love, so it's definitely a lighthearted (event) with some serious competitors. — HELEN FREUND