Recently I attended a party and fell in love. It might have been the warmth exuding from a holiday decorated home. Or maybe it was everyone dressed in their finest and looking more dashing than moon glow on new fallen snow. Perhaps it was the Marilyn Monroe era party theme.
Regardless of what caused my heightened romantic mood, I was smitten at first sight. Not with the elegant cheesecake oozing berries drizzled all over it, or with the rich gooey chocolate brownies sitting beside a glorious white cake. All were fitting for sweet tooth delight, but I didn’t indulge myself with any of the above. Why not you ask? Well, it’s a simple answer.
I had already fallen hopelessly in love with the red velvet cupcakes. That might sound like this was my first experience with red velvet, but no, I have quite a history with it. I’ve been hooked ever since I attended a potluck where an innocent looking neighbor introduced me to the hot red treat.
It’s been a love affair ever since.
I have to admit that despite years of secretly ravishing red velvet whenever the urge hits me, these particular cupcakes were the best I’ve ever had. They were so good in fact, I needed to know the source of those amazing little pretties that derailed my no-carbs policy.
Fortunately, I noticed a card was sitting beside the cupcakes when returning for a second. Shamelessly, I must confess they were not small cupcakes that would justify a second serving. Not at all. They were quite jolly and plump, as I would be had the rest fit in my purse. But alas, my pointless little jeweled bag couldn’t have held even one without brutally smashing it.
I, of course, contacted the person on the card hoping he lived in my neighborhood. He doesn’t. It was an encouraging interaction nonetheless, because I discovered Tony Rivers has a secret desire to be a fulltime baker, and toward that effort, bakes and sells his wares when not at his day job.
I asked Tony some questions about this dream, having tasted his vision and knowing firsthand it is just a matter of time until the world discovers his gift.
Have you always loved to bake? I always had an interest in baking. Over the past 11 years it’s developed into my passion. My mom told me stories about my grandmother who was a scratch baker. You know – a pinch of this, a dollop of that. To be able to do that and replicate something she had tasted, or that somebody had described to her amazed me. As I grew up, I dabbled here and there with pizzas, cakes and pies. On some level, I was trying to figure out if I could do what my grandmother did. Have I gotten there yet? Well, I’m working on it!
What made you decide to open a bakery? My wife, Amy, told me to get all my sweet and savory goodies away from her or else she’d get as big as a house. So, I decide to sell them. I don’t have a brick-and-mortar bakery, per se, but I do have a home-based baking business. Ideally, I’d like to get to the point where I can focus on baking and quit my other job.
Do you have any professional training for baking or running a business? I’m learning as I go. I do have the benefit of observing Amy as she runs her real estate business. She’s tenacious and determined. She’s willing and eager to learn. She keeps her word and she gives excellent customer service. If I emulate her characteristics, I’ll do well.
What has been your biggest challenge toward realizing this dream? My greatest challenge had been finding a place to bake. Once California passed the Cottage Food Bill, that obstacle was removed. I’ve got my permit and I’m ready to bake!
What have some of your most rewarding experiences been with baking? One of my most rewarding experiences happens every Saturday. That’s when I make pancakes for my family. It’s our Rivers Family tradition. We call it Pancake Saturday. With Four Rivers Baking Company, the most rewarding experience happens every time my baked goods bring enjoyment to my customers. In fact, a customer contacted me this Sunday past to ask if I was still making cinnamon rolls and delivering them on Christmas Eve. It’s become a tradition with her kids
What are your specialties and what next? I’m known for my cinnamon rolls. They are pretty darn good. My red velvet cakes/cupcakes and snicker doodles aren’t too shabby either. I’m not known for it yet, but I have created what I’m calling Thanksgiving Bread. It has the savory aromas and flavors of Thanksgiving.
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