I love hearing stories about individuals that have followed their dreams and made a life for themselves doing something that they truly love. To me that's what its all about, and life is too short for regrets. I know we all can't chuck our day jobs on a whim, but we should always try to find that one thing that we love and incorporate as much of it into our lives as possible. When I heard that Baker Gesine Prado is publishing a memoir chronicling how she went from being a Hollywood Film/television Executive (for her sister's production company, her sister is the award winning actress Sandra Bullock) to a Vermont Baker and Patisserie owner I was very intrigued. I wanted to know just how someone goes from living the "suite" life to literally an even "sweeter" life. Since I just couldn't wait until Gesine's book release this Fall I decided to go right to the source and chat one foodie to another with Gesine...
Foodie Heather: Tell me a little about yourself, where you grew up, etc.?
Gesine Prado: I grew up in Germany and Virginia. My mother is German and an opera singer. My father is American and from the deep south. So it was an interesting and jarring intermingling of cultures. But it also made for a genetic predisposition to crave both café culture high art pastry and fried chicken with homemade mac and cheese. We spent a while with my mother on the road in Europe and while she was off on longer jaunts, we'd stay with my aunt and my grandmother in Nürnberg. But primarily we'd be in Salzburg. We returned to the states where my father worked at the Pentagon when I was 5 and we consoled ourselves with trips to Germany during summer vacation when possible.
Foodie Heather: What is your first baking memory?
Gesine Prado: There are many. Germans bake all the time. My mother baked for all our special baking occasions. And she went far afield of the typical layer cake. She'd rather master the complex desserts of the Viennese patisseries than stoop to American box blech. She was pretty extraordinary that way. And stubborn as hell.
Foodie Heather: Do you have any formal training?
Gesine Prado: None. I trained myself. I had a fine example in my mother. Puff, laminates, sugar work...you name it. She mastered the French staples in our suburban kitchen. So I followed her lead.
Foodie Heather: Before you followed your true calling, you were a Hollywood executive; Did you ever have time to cook and bake or were things too hectic?
Gesine Prado: I baked all the time to reduce the growing disease of working in a place that made me terribly unhappy. The more complex the recipe, the calmer I became.
Foodie Heather: Not too sound like Oprah, but when did you have your "Aha Moment", when did you realize that your life needed a change?
Gesine Prado: It took a slow accumulation of many crappy experiences for me to get the cosmic kick in the ass to change.
Foodie Heather: What is the best part about having your own business?
Gesine Prado: Making whatever you want. Whenever you want. And giving it away if you so please.
Foodie Heather: Any regrets?
Gesine Prado: None!
Foodie Heather: Favorite Dessert?
Gesine Prado: I don't have one. It changes all the time. My tastes change with the season and with whim. Foodie Heather: Favorite Savory Dish?
Gesine Prado: BLT
Foodie Heather: What is the one kitchen item you can't live without?
Gesine Prado: My hands.
Foodie Heather: What's up next, besides the memoir?
Gesine Prado: We've sold the building that houses Gesine Confectionary and I'm going to Austin for the winter to create a pastry menu for a little general store called "waltons" that's pretty much a lovely Lonestar version of Dean and Deluca. So my focus will be on creating elegant Texas-centric signature desserts. And I'll focus on expanding my online/retail business and of course pastry development, blogging/writing when I return to Vermont.
Foodie Heather: And one last question, I just have to know. Can your sister (Sandra Bullock) bake?
Gesine Prado: Yes, and well.
Gesines Confeictionary in Montplier, VT closed its doors on Christmas Day, but stay tuned for even more exciting things to come from Gesine Prado including the release of her memoir this fall.