I was lucky enough to grow up in the small town of Huntsville and my love of cooking came from a busy household that had many family gatherings with lots of food! A restaurant seemed the right place to work part time while in high school and I got my first job working for a small restaurant in town. Due largely to a great work ethic I was soon promoted to the supervisor of the evening shift. It was during this time that I contemplated my career and decided that the kitchen was the place I felt very comfortable. My co-workers said, "but you're such a people person, why would you want to be stuck in a kitchen?", and not, as they thought, "out front". Conversely, my family supported me with whatever decision I chose to make. And so it was that fall, I enrolled in the George Brown Culinary Program!
I loved it from the start and was soon learning the art of sauces, gourmet dishes and desserts. I found it just came naturally to me. A true highlight was when I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with the George Brown Olympic Team. I may have just made the melon balls, but it was thrilling to be part of a great cooking team!
Due to my "poor student" status I went job hunting and was hired by the Outrigger Steak & Seafood restaurant doing prep and making appetizers. I then quickly worked my way through the sections to the temp Grill Cook. I was having the time of my life!
My first job post college was working at the Stage West Dinner Theatre and Hotel. As part of the interview process I was required to make two dishes in twenty minutes! My choice was chicken cordon bleu and stuffed mushrooms. Must have been pretty good as I was hired to start the next day! My family of course, was thrilled for me. Just as I had done as a teenager I worked hard and moved up through the sections to the AM Production line. This was exciting because some days we were serving 1200 people 4 different menus.
Just for fun, prior to Halloween, I baked shaped cookies for the staff. Within two weeks I was moved to the baking section of the hotel. It was a massive section but I just loved it, making as many as 30 cheesecakes at a time! I was the rookie and once again had to move my way back up the ranks. I rolled a ton of pie dough but gradually they gained confidence in me and I began baking and decorating the cakes.
A few years later and many family functions missed (because kitchen staff always work holidays), I decided to explore the idea of a day job with weekends off. What a concept! My first job as receptionist at Infinity Technologies was just down the street from Stage West. Wow, sitting at a desk all day at that time, seemed like a walk in the park.
However, my love of cooking remained with me and as word got out that I was formerly in the culinary field, I began a part time catering business. I developed a loyal clientele producing freezer packed meals and catering gigs. I have catered both hot and cold wedding parties for up to 100 people at a time. I offered everything from prime rib to hamburgers, with colourful fresh salads, themed cakes and/or homemade desserts.
During this time I met my husband, Vache. Life rolled on but gradually I found I was getting tired much faster and that I couldn't keep up. I was soon diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. I sadly had to start turning down work and my business had come to a halt. I needed to take care of me. Working 7 days a week wasn’t an option for me anymore.
In the fourth year of recovery Vache and I began entertaining our friends once again for BBQ’s and true to form I made "over the top" desserts to my friends delight! All agreed that I should restart my catering business or better yet open my own bakery! That really got me thinking hmmmmm, why don’t I?
Last year on a whim, I phoned the Milton Chamber of Commerce to ask if there was an available spot for a cupcake table. As luck would have it, a spot had just opened up days before. I had one week to get everything together; signs, tent, table, coolers, tongs, lids, etc. Six days later we opened at the Milton Farmer's Market. It has been all uphill from there; my cupcakes have been a roaring success. I use only natural ingredients and everything is baked fresh, nothing is ever frozen.
As relatively new residents to Milton, Ontario, participating in the Milton Market has been a wonderful experience. Vache and I love meeting and mingling with the local residents and farmers. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to see so many people enjoying my products.As a result, my business has continued to grow at an incredible rate. Now I get to enjoy both being out front as the "people person", while also enjoying my first love, cooking!
Come visit us at the market soon to say 'Hello' and enjoy a 'Hillary's Cupcake' and cup of homemade ice tea.