Beth’s Community Kitchen Story
-there really is a Beth
Bake My baking career began at age 5, in my backyard. I had my first kitchen set up there, complete with my mother’s discarded cake pans and bowls and empty flavoring extract bottles filled with water. I could stay there for hours making fancy desserts out of the various types of mud found in my little corner of the yard. My mother was an excellent baker and we had dessert every night. When I was nine years old, I was finally allowed to bake by myself. I was given the task of making cornbread everyday because my mother loved it so. I also loved to experiment in the kitchen and spent my junior year of high school searching for the perfect chocolate pie recipe. Eat At Stanford University in Florence, where I spent a year in college, I learned an even deeper appreciation of food. The Italians have a reverence for food. I traveled around Europe with friends and made both mental and actual pictures of all the exciting new foods I was sampling. The first time I found myself in a patisserie in Paris, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. When I returned to Stanford in California, I planned elaborate meals for the enthusiastic group of art and drama students I lived with. When I completed Stanford and was looking for a job, my friend Judy Rodgers, now owner and chef at Zuni Café in San Francisco suggested I take a pecan tarte, one of my specialties, to Mark Miller who had just opened his restaurant The Fourth Street Grill in Berkeley, California. He loved it and decided to order them for the restaurant, even though everything he served was made “in house.” I made hundreds of pecan tartes in my very tiny kitchen and when Mark asked if I wanted the job of pastry chef, I happily accepted. My kitchen was getting too crowded! My next job was at Il Fornaio, U.S.A. Chuck Williams discovered this chain of bakeries in Italy and brought the franchise to the United States. At Il Fornaio, I learned about production, very different from the job of a restaurant pastry chef. I also got to speak Italian again, an added bonus. While at Il Fornaio, I married my husband Rob, a fine artist. When I became pregnant with our first child, Nicholas, I gave up my job at the bakery, because of the long hours and heavy lifting. We moved to Stinson Beach and I started making cakes and pies for local inns, along with wedding cakes…the start for my own business. We moved to Florence when our son was a year old and we spent a year and a half there, my husband working with Nathan Oliviera at Stanford in Florence and I eating my way through Italy. When we returned to the U.S. we had our second child, Sophia. I was ready to go back to work as a pastry chef but realized the cost of child care in addition to the long hours, I decided to do my own thing. Again I started with the pecan tart. I took samples around before Christmas of 1988 to corporations to give as corporate gifts. I sold about 500 tarts and I was back in business. Love In 1989, I started making pies, cakes and pastries for restaurants and deli’s in the San Francisco Bay Area at a commercial kitchen. In 1990, when one of my customers asked if I could make cookies, Beth’s Heavenly Little Cookies were born. The cookies are bite-sized and made of the finest all-natural ingredients. We have and will always insist on only the highest quality ingredients. Our butter is delivered to us directly from our local, all-natural dairy farmers and our eggs are the best, free-range and the freshest that we can get. I strongly believe that customers can taste and appreciate the difference. Our most popular cookie is our Triple Ginger Snaps. I developed this cookie when I was pregnant with my son Nick and having occasional bouts of morning sickness. I remembered that my mother use to give me ginger for stomach aches and so I tweaked my basic gingersnap recipe and included fresh ground ginger and bits of candied ginger. EUREKA! My morning sickness passed and Triple Ginger Snaps were created At first, the Heavenly Little Cookies were sold in Gift Tubes, named “Beth’s Babies” to customers such as Neiman-Marcus, Dean & Deluca, Henri Bendels and other high end retailers. A couple of years later demand grew and we started selling cookies to grocery accounts and we changed the packaging to be more eco-friendly and re-sealable. During this period we also developed other products such as a line of Cake Mixes for Wm Sonoma and Parmesan Black Pepper Cheese Crackers and Martini Biscuits for Crate n Barrel. We began producing cookies for private label partners: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Bev Mo, Target … to name a few! We were also very honored to receive several nominations at the NASFT Fancy Food show for Outstanding Baked Good & Outstanding Cookie, twice in 1998 & 2002 and also in 1999, 2005 and 2007. This award is the industry’s “Oscar award” and Beth’s ORIGINAL Triple Ginger Snaps has received a few nominations and award for Outstanding Cookie. For over 20 years, through highs and lows, we have been a family run dessert business, and we are happy to announce that we are expanding! Beth’s Community Kitchen, our very own retail bakery opened in December 2011 in Mill Valley, California. It has been a labor of love, and we were excited to finally be opening our doors! We appreciate our staff and our wonderful customers who believe they have found a slice of heaven in Mill Valley when it comes to baked goods. Read their reviews and then come in and visit us.