When I was 12 years old I was in Ortley Beach and my sister was making a cake for our neighbor Peggy. It was a cartoon character cake, Ziggy, you might remember him. I turned around and said, "Wow that is amazing I want to learn how to do that!" Well you know how sisters can be and my sister said you're too stupid you can't do that. Well, I took that as a challenge and that is when at the age of 12 I took my first cake decorating class at Sears and Roebucks. I started making cakes all the time, I loved it.
Eventually I started getting into making chocolates and that's when I learned my grandfather, who had passed away the same year I was born, was actually a head candy maker at Grunting's up in the Oranges. I continued to made cakes for friends and many other people. I loved cooking so I decided to take cooking classes in school and then I went onto Johnson and Wales for culinary arts. I was only there for one semester. I learned from the very beginning that the culinary field probably wasn't for me as they had said to me something in the beginning that I will never forget; If I was going to become a chef, I would not have time for a wife or a family, my job would have to come first. I was not ready for that and that's when I let my parents know that I didn't think this was the right thing for me.
Well, that same semester my father passed away with an aneurysm I wound up coming home to be with my mom and help her. I then went to Union County Vocational School for pastry arts. After that, I started working for a bakery up in Chatham. I learned a lot from them. In fact, that is where I learned to make my now "famous" butter cookies, after adding a few tweaks of my own to the recipe. Fast forward a few years, I moved down to Toms River where I had the opportunity to join the supermarket chain but ultimately decided I wanted to own my own bakery instead. I knew if I joined the supermarket at that time I would never get the chance to live out my dream of owning my own bakery. So instead, I worked for a local bakery close to my home as their manager. While working as bakery manager I browsed around for bakery locations and in due time I finally found the perfect location to open up my OWN bakery.
At times it was hard to juggle everything but it was the best thing I ever did. After 10 years of being at that bakery, I sold it with no intention of ever opening a bakery of my own again. I considered going into real estate and joked with an old friend about getting a job at a grocery chain working as a baker. She said they don't need people and I wouldn't be able to get a job at a supermarket bakery anyway. Well I ended up taking her words as a challenge and I applied anyway. And don't you know I was hired on the spot for a full time position. My friend could not believe I was hired full time from day one, that was unheard of 20 years ago never mind for such a great, well-known company.
It was a great experience at first and I learned so much from them. Even though it was a large supermarket chain, they were a true locally owned family business. At this point from the outside looking in, I had everything; I had a great job. I had a great family. I had two beautiful daughters. Although it still felt as if something was missing from my life. At the age of 54, I decided to become my own man and actually do for me what I have always told people to do for themselves. "Just be yourself."
So at the age of 54 I hit the restart button on my life and came out to my family and friends as gay. It was not easy for anyone but it was what I needed to do for me. For some reason things were telling me I had to do this and this was the right time. I had met the man I am now married to. From the moment we met, I immediately knew the time was here to start the next chapter of my life. Things again were great in my life. I had everything I could want again. A great job, a man who loves me, but still something felt "missing." I played around with baking and chocolate making at home. The work at the supermarket wasn't really "baking" as I remembered it anymore.
Things had become so corporate and we were doing more mixing of prepared ingredients, not creating from scratch. I love baking for the holidays and this past December someone said to me you should really start selling your products. Wow I thought, what a great idea and I actually started selling them on Facebook Marketplace until I realized that at the time, without a cottage license, it was illegal in New Jersey to do anything like that so I stopped. This is when I began to dream about opening a bakery again and that dream came true not too long ago. I came across a location and I talked to my dear friend Nancy about it. She was excited and thought it was an amazing opportunity. We decided we would do this together, leave the supermarket bakery and open up a family oriented bakery together.
We both never thought we'd be leaving the supermarket industry after all these years but again, sometimes your next chapter opens up for you and you have to say okay, let's go for it. So we went for it and it's been going better than I could have ever imagined!
Unfortunately, Nancy is no longer a part of The Crazy Baker Cafe, as she changed her mind and came to realization it would not be a good fit for her. But that is okay because everyone must follow their happiness.
So that's my story, I hope that through my products I can bring together my crazy baker family with yours. Ultimately, the whole reason for life is to bond with family and those you love most. That is a core value of mine and I also strive to treat my employees as family, just as I was treated in so many places I worked.
So I welcome you to come visit the bakery and be a part of our big crazy family!