On the Line: Rachel Klemek Of Blackmarket Bakery, Part Two

In today's segment, Klemek discusses parenting and her future apple farm. Thanks for inviting us into your kitchen, Rachel!

Check out the first part of my interview with the dessert duchess. And if you're good, there may be a Santa Ana preview in the not-so-distant future.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in North Carolina, moved around the South and ended up in Southern California in seventh grade. I experienced serious culture shock, going from wading in creeks barefoot, speaking with a thick Southern accent and running around my rural neighborhood in Anderson, South Carolina, to living in suburban Irvine.


What's your favorite childhood memory?
I'm an only child, but have lots of cousins. It was a treat to be at my grandparents house in the midst of my relatives cooking a big Southern dinner, while a bunch of us played football or card games. I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the chaos of having lots going on.

Tell us something most people don't know about you.
Up until my 30s, I was always very shy. It wasn't until I started teaching baking and doing demos on stage that I became more confident and outspoken. And being a “boss” and a parent helps, too.

Last thing you looked up online:
Trying to replace a book of my husband's that was lost years and years ago – Minka: Traditional Houses of Rural Japan. Found it!

Do you have any skills that do not involve food?
I hope so. The business end of our organization that I tackle daily, like graphic design, writing, accounting, marketing, etc. Also teaching and (hopefully) management.

What inspires or motivates you?
Having a vision of what could be, then trying to close the gap between that vision and reality.

You didn't always plan on being a pastry chef/baker. How did that come about?
I majored in Anthropology at UC Irvine. My grandmothers were both great bakers, and I used to make pies with my dad. But a more professional interest in baking and pastry didn't evolve until I was in my late-20s, watching kids at home and trying to make sourdough bread.

When you're not in the bakery, what are you doing in your free time.
Working on the business end of the bakery, planning the Santa Ana and San Diego locations, or hanging out with the family. We have been parents for half of our lives, and it has always been a primary focus of our time.

Our oldest son is still at home, as he applies for jobs in the film industry in Austin, Texas. The next oldest is my daughter, who is a cadet at West Point, but this semester she is spending in Moldova studying Russian. The third is our son that just graduated from high school, and leaves for basic training this month. And our youngest is a daughter who is a junior in high school My default is to spend whatever free time I have with my husband and whatever family is home– they don't stay “kids” for that long, although they will always be my kids.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
I feel like I am always learning and relearning lessons. The challenge I struggle with is how best to be a leader for the bakery staff and balancing the day-to-day demands with the push towards long-term progress. Developing a team that can communicate and collaborate around common goals is my goal. And I think it is always a good strategy to not take oneself so seriously. Being in the foodservice industry should be fun . . . I mean, we're making cookies and cakes!

What would you be doing if you weren't in the industry?
Own an apple farm with livestock and learn how to make cider. Hopefully it's not too late to do this still!

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about your bakery?
Any organization cannot be run by one person. Our bakery is completely a team effort, from the night bakers to the sales staff to the line cooks. We love when folks adopt the Blackmarket culture, add to it and make it their own. That allows the organization to thrive. As owner, my job is to encourage that sense of creativity and ownership.

The Santa Ana location of Blackmarket Bakery will be at 211 N Broadway, (714) 571-0801; www.blackmarketbakery.com.

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