Monday, October 5, 2015

Jessica Daly, Corporate Executive Pastry Chef of Kneaders Bakery & Cafe.

I think I've waited to write this post for nine months for a reason. Leaving Kneaders was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Kneaders was my Utah  family, and my life for several years. It is one of my greatest achievements in life being the Corporate Executive Pastry Chef. It challenged me, it rewarded me, it made me a better chef and a better person. Kneaders took incredibly good care of me and appreciated me and my talents. Being loved and cared for like that made working 100hrs a week during the holidays worthwhile. It made working hard everyday a priority.  I learned how to be a better teacher, I learned how to care more for my chefs. It was a complete blast! I miss it in so many ways. Thanksgiving without making 3,000 pies in three days seems too relaxed. I had my finishing time for a Banana Cream Pie down to 41seconds when I was at my peak during the holidays. 

Specialty Dessert Platters during Christmas. You have to love a certain type of crazy to survive in the kitchen during the holidays. It's a total rush. 
Orders for Valentine's day, you should see Thanksgiving! :) 

This job was a complete dream. I oversaw all the pastry departments, ran store openings, developed recipes, edit recipes, certified pastry chefs, created organization requirements and layouts  for the kitchens, organized holiday prep schedules, taught classes to customers, taught chefs how to run a kitchen, inspections, working in the stores directly making pastry, and washing dishes. No one is above washing dishes. I've seen the founders, the CFO, CEO, CEO of Four Foods Group and every member of the Corporate team come over and wash dishes to help when it's busy. Kneaders is the best team to work for. 

 I worked directly for Colleen, she and her wonderful husband Gary founded Kneaders. She is smart, fierce, capable, and one of the hardest working women I know.  I love her like my Grandmother. She believed in me and pulled some of my greatest recipes out of me. Research & Development is very important, and we did countless taste tests to get each recipe perfect. It was awesome. She asked me to create a line of mini bundt cakes. She wanted one for each quarter and I started with a list of close to 60 possibilities. She is a perfectionist and so am I,  I  made 15 variations of a lemon bundt before we decided on Lemon Ginger. Once we locked in on Lemon Ginger the tweaking of the recipe begins. Testing shelf life, does it need one glaze or two, how does it hold up in the freezer? What about the batter? Do we carry the ingredients already? etc. It taught me to be incredibly thorough. I love that Lemon Ginger cake. It's a perfect January cake. Did you know we went through seven mini-bundt pans before finding a perfect fit? Writing this puts a smile on my face. I love details, and the science behind perfect pastry just really gets my chef nerd going. We all need to be passionate about something.  

 On one of my biggest business trips I was flying with Colleen by myself, and I needed to ask for time off so I could fly home to receive my endowment. It was the beginning of the holiday season and she said yes without thinking twice. Which is a huge deal because holidays as a Pastry Chef are maybe a random Tuesday in March after the real holidays settle down.  Not only did she say yes, she could tell I was a little nervous about this upcoming life change and then told me about how she had served in the temple as the Sister who helps girls going through for the first time. Knowing her incredible workload, knowing that she found time to also serve in the temple was an incredible example to me.  The things she said to me in that airport terminal gave me so much peace. She was so supportive of me getting married and worked with me after we moved to Texas so I could keep working. 

Leaving was incredibly bittersweet. My job was a dream come true for me in so many ways, but it was much harder to keep track of nearly 30 stores in four states and attend openings and provide the support to my chefs and my boss from 2,000 miles away. Part of it was I love Kneaders so much, they deserved a CEPC that could be there at the drop of the hat and be in Utah, and part of it was both Scott and I felt prompted that it was time to build our marriage and build our home here in TX. We are lucky enough that his job allows for that. 

I will always love my time and adventures with Kneaders, and I know that part of me will always miss the rush of being the first one to turn the ovens on in the morning. It was an incredible ride. I promised my mom that we can write a second volume of my story as a pastry chef, so maybe a few CEPC stories will find their way onto this blog too. 

One of my favorite parts of my job was developing recipes and seeing my babies on billboards and advertisements. Pastry is a beautiful art. Here's some of my highlight reel. 

Haupia Tarts for the Aloha Summer Promotion

Pineapple Hand Pies  for the Aloha Summer Promotion 

Lemon Ginger Mini-Bundt Cakes

Hummingbird Mini-Bundt Cakes

Triple Chocolate Pudding Mini-Bundt Cakes

Red Velvet Mini-Bundt Cakes 

One of the craziest things I've ever done was do a cooking demonstration for San Antonio Live about six weeks after moving to TX. 

One of my very first corporate responsibilities was to write the curriculum  and teach a cupcake class for customers. I taught all over Utah and in Idaho. 

My very first store opening, Gilbert, AZ. 

First Store Opening, Gilbert, AZ (Corporate Team)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies and German Chocolate Brownies. German Chocolate is the very first recipe I ever developed for Kneaders. 

Halloween Treats for JT at the MTC

Some of the pies for Thanksgiving. 

Bundts I made for Studio 5 on KSL

Print Ads in the stores and on fliers. 

First Flier I ever did!

Recruiting Interns at NAU and JWU(my alma mater)

Kneaders was pretty amazing and Colleen backed my Gingerbread House Idea so fast. Each of my Gingerbread Houses as well as gingerbread men cookies for every single patient were donated to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. We continued this tradition at San Antonio Children's Hospital last year. 

My First Billboard! 

On my very last day, in my very favorite chef coat. Grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of something so incredible. 


  1. Wow - that is the word that comes to mind. I can't even imagine accomplishing even an iota of what you have done and continue to do. I'm so grateful that you are so tremendously motivated in life and do so much good wherever you go.

  2. Oh my heavens. I loved reading this Jess! What amazing accomplishments.

  3. Oh my Jess! I am just sobbing reading all of this. What an amazing gift and talent you have! It is still hard to believe how young you are to have accomplished so much. I fully expect you to edit my remarks, but can I add the mom angle?

    Huapia tarts developed in bed via interns' hands and you walking her through it by phone because you were developing complications from mono. I put this in the double concussion category of your ability to function--correction, knock it out of the park-- under great odds.

    Pies --by the truckload. I have waited on the lawn several times on the day before Thanksgiving--my mama heart circling and worrying after three days strung together on a few hours sleep-- to peel her away and put her to bed for the weekend. How many Christmases consisted of a 2 day pit stop to get your haircut, toes done and have a massage?---quick stop at the outlet mall before you caught a plane?

    Seeing you handle yourself so gracefully on TV---my we've come a long way from those elementary school choir performances.

    German chocolate brownies--perfection. Being an extremely sugar-sensitive mama these babies are my number one pick --ahh but the macaroons--anyways, as someone who has experimented A LOT with what works and what doesn't in this area. This has a good slow burn (enough fat to balance out the sugar) that doesn't send me off the roof after one bite....a worthy treat.

    Gingerbread season--Jess, you have the biggest heart of anyone I know. You have brought so much joy and many many smiles to hurting parents and and very sick children. You have made your Grandma McGuire very proud here.

    This has been a great season of your life. Dad and I have known since you were very young what a natural you are at homemaking. Scott is a very lucky man to have won your heart. The two of you will only get better together. Opportunities will come down the road for you to use these skills. You are wise to recognize where to channel your energy right now.

    Darn right we're making a second book!

  4. I loved this post. I loved reading about your passion for Kneaders and all that you accomplished. It is amazing and you should be so proud. I remember having a passion like that when I worked for an amazing company - they were family and still are. But for now my passion is at home, where my children and husband are. Have fun with the next chapter of your life :)