Every weekend, my father and I go grocery shopping together at Giant, picking up whatever essentials we need for the week ahead. It would seem, every time we go, we end up near the baked goods section because the delectable smell of dough pulls us in without us even realizing it. When I’m in that section, I can see Amanda Sallada rolling the dough in the back with a lost-in-though expression. Sometimes, I even see her working the counter, politely conversing with customers with a smile spread across her lips. Her confidence always makes her look tall and graceful like an elegant swan floating in the water with its head held high. One day, I found out that was not the case when I accompanied my mom to help her pick up a dozen cupcakes for work. Amanda was actually shorter than me, which was saying something because I am only five feet two inches tall. I now understand what self-confidence does to a person. It gives them attraction.
After high school, most people go straight to college and then find a job. Amanda Sallada decided to take a different approach. Instead of attending college first, she decided to get a job in order to have some work experience, so when she is a college student, she will have enough work experience to find a job that corresponds with her major. I thought this was a good idea, to have work experience to get ready for college. Perhaps, it would be good practice for creating a work ethic because in college, to be a successful student, one needs to have a great work ethic.
Amanda Sallada admitted that one thing she really wanted to do was work in the Peace Corps. She wanted to help the unfortunate by cooking them delicious food because she feels like she can make a difference that way rather than continue baking at a bakery for the rest of her life. My heart melted when she told me this. It is amazing to have people in this world who will give up their life in order to help out others in a time of need. I wished there were more people like her. Also, I find that it is great that someone my age has already found their dream job and purpose in life. There are still middle-aged people that have not found their dream, and it is rare to find a likeable job nowadays, but Amanda found it and is working towards it at a steady pace.
Baking at Giant’s bakery was actually a good start for her because it gave her a chance to learn many new recipes and methods. She learned how to make doughnuts, including the specific procedures that go into frying the dough. Additionally, Amanda learned how bake rainbow cupcakes and cakes. She makes the rainbow cupcakes by mixing six different colored bowls of batter and stacking the colors in a specific order, starting with purple on the bottom followed by blue, then green, with yellow next, ending with orange, having red on top. If the dyed batter mixes with other colors, it won’t turn into an ugly brown color. As for the cakes, each different colored layer is baked separately and stacked later. Amanda also learned how to make an assortment of pies. For three years, she has worked many crazy hours in the bakery. And, even though it is hectic from time to time, she enjoys her time there, baking mouth-watering cakes, doughnuts, pies, breads, along with other delicious desserts. When she is ready, she can take her baking skills and make good use out of them when helping people in other countries. It is really a great skill to possess.
When I asked her if I could interview her for my interview project, she became excited and immediately agreed to help me. She was so surprised that someone wanted interview her, who was not even the main baker. I explained to her that I picked her because she was about my age, approachable, and it seemed like she took pride in her work. But, also, because I thought she would be the best person to ask about the types of ingredients. With issues regarding food these days, I was curious about what Giant’s bakery had to offer to the public. I wanted to know if they were helping the public or making things worse. Plus, there were some additional things I wanted to know. For example, many of my family members have food allergies. My cousin, for instance, is allergic to milk, eggs, and peanuts, so it is very difficult to find things for him to eat. I thought I could help him out a bit. I figured while doing this project, I might as well get something out of it besides a grade.
I started off the interview by asking, “Why did you choose to work at the bakery in Giant?”
She automatically grinned and said, “I chose this job because I’ve always enjoyed baking growing up. I was good at it and being a baker at Giant was something I could start doing while under the age of 18, while still going to high school.” She paused to take a breath. “It also didn’t really involve any sort of education.” Then, I asked her what she liked about her job. It didn’t take long for her to answer. Almost immediately, she answered with a bright smile, “What I like about it is that I work very early in the morning and then get done with my shift early in the afternoon, so then, I still have most of the day to do errands and meet up with friends.” Amanda paused for a brief second and tapped softly on the table as she was thinking about more details to add. “Also, working in the bakery is the only department where you can be creative by having your say on what you want your product to look like, by choosing different designs and colors on cakes, cookies, and doughnuts, for example.” She showed me a picture of a doughnut she made that had a rainbow with big fluffy clouds at each end drawn on it with assorted colored icing.
As someone who likes to be creative as well, I understood her desire of wanting to be creative at her job. It spices up the day, and makes it more entertaining and fun. She made it clear that she does this by sprucing up the cakes, cupcakes, and doughnuts with colorful and fun designs. For example, since Easter is nearing, she has been making doughnut chicks for the past couple weeks, giving them facial expressions that give them personality.
While writing her responses down, the tip of my pencil snapped off. Even though it was such a minor thing, I became extremely embarrassed. I did have another pencil with me, but before I could get it out, Amanda snagged the blue pen off of her black marble counter and handed it to me. I thanked her and continued. “What is the most challenging thing to make in the bakery?” I wondered. I knew how to bake a few things, but I wanted to know what was considered difficult for someone who was skilled at baking.
She brought her hand to her chin and thought deeply. When she knew what she was going to say, her eyes widened, her forehead crinkled, and her nose twitched. “The hardest thing to make would be doughnuts,” she stated as she put emphasis on the word “doughnuts”.
I couldn’t help but laugh from her response. The way she said it was comical. It seemed the subject of doughnuts slightly annoyed her. “Why is that?”
Amanda explained in one breath, “They take about eight hours to make the daily required amount, and you need to be trained by a specialist. It takes lots of practice. Typically you have to make about twenty-five dozen a night, roll each one out, fry them all, and decorate or fill them. It’s just a lot of work.”
“Ah.” I never knew doughnuts were fried. It sounded very interesting. “That does sound like a lot of hard work. I definitely wouldn’t have the patience to do that,” I admitted honestly. “I think the smell of the dough alone would get to me.”
She smiled. “Eh, you get used to it after a while.”
“So, do you know where the ingredients come from?” I tried to as casually.
She tilted her head slightly and contorted her lips to one side as she glanced upward at the ceiling. “Most of the ingredients have to get ordered from a warehouse every other day.” She didn’t know which warehouse in particular. “Or, some of them, we just get off of the store shelf, such as produce, oil, flour, etc.”
I actually didn’t think they took ingredients off the shelf. “Really?” I said to myself quietly, feeling a little surprised. “Seems convenient,” I chuckled softly. “Interesting.” Amanda nodded, agreeing with me. “Does the Giant’s bakery get their ingredients locally?” I jumped into the next question almost immediately.
“Not in the bakery. But, produce, meat, and seafood are obtained from local farmers all around Pennsylvania. In the bakery, our stuff comes from factories and warehouses all over the country. Some items even come from Canada.”
“Oh, okay.” It didn’t seem that unusual to me. Most places are like that. “Are the ingredients mostly processed, natural, or organic?”
“A majority of the ingredients in the bakery are processed.” Amanda gave me a list of some of the things that were processed. “Icings, cake mixes, frostings, and muffins.” Additionally, she mentioned, “But, things such as sugar, flour, cinnamon, apples, strawberries, and blueberries are organic.” When I asked her about how there could be organic versions of some of these ingredients since they are using some of them from the store, she also included, “Those things get shipped in.”
“So, then, if it was your choice, would you use processed, natural, or organic ingredients?”
“If it was my choice?” She retorted back to herself. “I would use all organic ingredients,” she answered enthusiastically as she slightly smacked the wooden surface with her hands as they dangled halfway off the table. “That way, customers would know exactly what was used, no additives, harmful chemicals, pesticides, or artificial ingredients. And, also, because organic tastes better and is healthier for you.”
I agreed, “Organic is healthier.” Amanda nodded. With my cousin in mind, I asked, “Does the bakery cater to those with food allergies?”
She frowned for a brief second and fiddled with her sterling silver ring that had a shining pale blue stone in the center. “No, it’s not possible. Since we work in an environment with nuts, dairy products, and spices, there is no way of knowing for sure if the products have any traces of allergens.”
“Makes sense,” I stated. “It’s good to play it safe. You obviously don’t want any lawsuits.” I suddenly remembered that they put warning labels on things made in the bakery, so they could warn customers about potential hazards. I should have known the answer to my own question. To end the interview, I inquired, “What makes Giant’s bakery different from any other bakery?”
“Unlike other bakeries, most of our products are baked or made/assembled on site. We decorate our cakes, bake all the cookies, muffins, and other sweet goods instead of just un-boxing and placing items onto the shelves.”
“Oh, I see,” I paused. “I just assumed all bakeries made their own products.” I was thankful that everything worked out. Amanda Sallada did not become uninterested at any point, and she was able to answer all of the questions. Before I left, I thanked her for her time and shook her hand.
It was evident from her happy-go-lucky responses that she really enjoys baking at Giant’s bakery. Even though this is not her dream job, she is still happy with where she is now and acknowledges that the job is a great start for when she wants to work in the Peace Corps. For now, she is taking advantage of this opportunity and giving a 110 percent when baking. It definitely shows in her decorating skills. When she is ready, she will apply to the Peace Corps, hopefully getting selected to travel across seas to help people that are less fortunate.