Baker Callie’s mini desserts a big hit
In university, Callie Jinadu looked longingly at the baking and pastry labs across the hall.
A “foodie” since she “was very young”, she’d signed up for the culinary programme at Johnson & Wales thinking it was the way to go, but watching the students at work on their desserts, she wasn’t so sure.
“I felt, not that I made the wrong choice – I have always loved cooking – but I think at that point in time I thought I definitely shouldn't be on that side of the lab classes,” she said.
She spoke to advisers who warned of a long wait-list in baking; a switch was impossible.
“In the meantime I finished with my culinary lab classes which were very hands-on. I was in the meat-cutting classes where you're getting whole pigs; we had to fabricate chickens; we had to write down all of the different parts of each animal – learn how to cut them and stuff and it was just insane.”
A space in baking and pastry didn’t open up until she was ready to begin her bachelor’s programme. As joining meant she’d have to start all over with her lab work, Ms Jinadu decided to stick with what she had started, but found a job as a cake decorator at a Publix grocery store.
“They wouldn't allow me to do anything as I had no experience,” she said, explaining how she was tasked with sticking labels on prepackaged cupcakes and other goods.
“Everything there comes pre-made. It’s frozen and you just kind of decorate them so I would always ask if I could help but they always said no.”
Back in Bermuda she worked as an intern with Beau Rivage, a restaurant once attached to Newstead Golf Resort & Spa.
“I kind of floated around the kitchen and helped out with their brunch and culinary and pastry at that time too.
I was really excited to be on the pastry side whenever they would allow me to get that experience.”
The three months there convinced her it was the type of position she should be striving for, but with little experience it was tough finding a job until a temporary one came up at a hotel in Washington, working under Naomi Gallego.
The accomplished pastry chef was “very blunt, straight to the point” and not so easy to work under, Ms Jinadu said.
“But at that time in my life, it was so good to have her. She showed me the way things should be done, how to have clean work … it gave me a certain respect for her, a female in a male-dominated industry.
“There was a point in time where I expressed to her that I felt she was harder on me than the rest of the pastry team. She said it's not that she was being hard on me, it's just that she saw all of the potential.”
The temporary job became a permanent one.
“I learnt so much from her. She’s travelled all over the world and competed in different pastry competitions. She definitely shaped me into who I am today.”
Four years later, Ms Jinadu decided to take “some time out of the pastry kitchen”.
She joined an administrative team at a Washington hotel, where it was her job to liaise with clients on requested events.
Although it wasn’t for her she feels it was an invaluable experience that prepared her for what was to come.
“Sometimes kitchen people don't really get that type of exposure and a lot of times kitchen people aren't really great at dealing with people,” she said.
“When you're offering a certain service, you have to allow people to know that you care. You’re giving them a custom service, you're not just taking an order, you're actually taking the time to let them know that their request is important. Having good customer service is important, just as important as having good desserts.”
Micah Jinadu, who is now her husband, persuaded her to start her own business in 2017.
“He said, ‘Imagine what you could possibly make out of your own business if you put in the same amount of time that you're putting into working for other people’.”
With student loans to pay off and a savings plan in place it was hard to walk away from “a steady job with a steady paycheque”.
“When you start thinking of working for yourself, being an entrepreneur, starting your own small business ….it just seemed really, really scary.”
She started making her “luxury mini desserts” on the side and then her confidence grew as the business took off.
Ms Jinadu credits a big part of her initial success with the effort she put into understanding Instagram.
“At the time it was just another social media platform but it was, for me, a free marketing platform. So I just studied all of the insights and what I needed to do to reach more people, so that I could get my name out there. I was just posting things and trying to be eager about my business and getting other people to be excited about it too.”
In 2020 “the wind blew” her and her husband home to Bermuda where her desserts have also been well received.
“I specialise in mostly mini-desserts. So I do a lot of shooters, little mini dessert cups, buttercream cakes …. They’re luxury desserts, very nicely executed, very simple, minimalist style of desserts. The way I make them is very clean and that's what I learnt from my chef Naomi.
“After however many years, I'm back in Bermuda and I'm happy to be home and doing what I do – baking and making people happy.”