WHO I AM
Jessica Knudsen, Chef/Owner of Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pastry. I am a former graphic designer/web developer who jacked in her career and followed a dream all the way to Oregon to attend culinary school. I am a classically trained chef, but my art school background parlayed really well into the pastry side of the culinary world. I've been operating the wholesale bakery here in Severna Park since 2005. I bought it from Dan Hawthorne in 2008. I live in DC, but long before Hawthorne, I had friends in Severna Park and had spent real time up here - mostly on the beach in the Round Bay community. So, when I got the interview back in 2005, I was SO excited to get back out here. It's an easy early morning commute for me - AGAINST traffic. So, I feel pretty lucky to be back in and now a part of this community.
HOW WE OPERATE
We take pride in hand-crafting each piece of pastry. All of the fillings, doughs, glazes.... ALL OF IT is made from scratch. No convenience products here. We don't open cans of apple filling - we peel, core, and slice apples to cook with butter, sugar, and spices to create our apple filling. It's WORTH IT to know what goes into the pastry. No preservatives, no additives, no dough conditioners. NO SURPRISES.
THE COVID EFFECT
We've all seen a huge shift in how we're living our lives - what we really value and what we can do without. From teleworking (if that's an option), to educating our children remotely, to seeing or NOT seeing our families... the pandemic has impacted every area of our lives.
For me and the bakery - the shutdown in March of 2020 was really scary. I wasn't sure IF or HOW we could come back. Who would we be coming back for? By June I'd had enough wholesale customers reach out to say they were getting ready to re-open - hoping I'd be opening back up along side them. I brought back minimal staff and reduced the number of pastry offerings to start up again. It was evident pretty quickly that the level of wholesale business that was still available wasn't going to cut it. The PPP/EIDL money would run out eventually. We needed a plan - a new course - how to stay busy, stay OPEN for the long haul until the world rights itself again.
One of my sous chefs suggested doing farmer's markets to increase sales. My gut reaction at the time was, "NO - I'm not going to sit in the heat/humidity and risk getting COVID for a couple hundred dollars in sales!" I started looking more closely at Strikingly - my web builder - and a simple store option had just recently been added to the site. The former designer/web developer in me went to work. I was thinking about the farmer's markets, and the CSAs that I've been part of in the past.... And that's how the CSP was born. Community Supported Pastry. I have spent 16 years as the quiet wholesaler - we sell to people who RE-sell the pastry. I've not spent any real time face-to-face with the folks who actually enjoy the pastry. I thought maybe this community - that I have quietly enjoyed for 16 years - might find some indulgent, hand-crafted, European-style breakfast pastries to be just the treat they need to feel less stuck in their homes and away from friends and colleagues. We went live with the store in August. I was so excited to get 45 orders the first week. I was a little taken aback to get 190 orders the following week!! It was AMAZING! I've never been so surprised by anything in my life. And I was having FUN - getting to meet everyone that came in. Your responses to the pastry... SO much enthusiasm. One at a time, you all came in to get your box of goodies and reminded me that what we do here is actually VERY special. I've been doing it for SO long... after you hand-roll a few hundred thousand croissants - you forget that it's even food. It may as well just be clay. YOUR response has kept the CSP going. Kept my little company going. I am humbled and beyond grateful for the continued support. THANK YOU.