SUBLETTE — Memories of flour, butter and sugar scoops turned into a career for Kristy (Kessel) Dauck of Amboy. The lessons she learned in the kitchen alongside her mother and grandmother now form the foundation of her small business.
Dauck said she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do after graduating from high school.
“I grew up watching my mother and grandmother baking all the time,” Dauck said. “We grew up in 4-H, cake decorating in 4-H.”
Even today, Dauck said she’s just as comfortable in muck boots as she is in the kitchen.
Her father steered her toward working in a kitchen and before long, she was working at a nursing home and even thought about pursuing a degree in dietary management. Her quest to keep on cooking led her to a position at the Chrysler plant in Belvidere before the company canceled the contract.
“That was a very fast-paced job,” she remembers.
By the time she landed at LaMoille High School as their cook, she began to wonder about her future and possibly a career beyond that of the lunch lady.
“I was online and a ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ ad popped up,” she said. “Within two days of me filling out the form, I was getting phone calls and pamphlets.”
As they were recruiting her, she was consulting with her parents and it didn’t take long before she was in downtown Chicago and enrolled in the classic French cooking school.
“So, in mid-November, I moved to Chicago,” Dauck said.
But you can’t take this gal out of the country. She routinely came home on weekends and initially only signed up for a short certificate course.
“I got through that and wanted to learn more,” she said.
She now holds a diploma in patisserie and baking from the school and started looking for a place to put her love of baking and classic skills to use.
“When I was going to school, I was part of the competition team,” she said. “We would practice our knife skills for hours.”
She can still slice, dice, cube and mince a potato but the competitions just weren’t cutting it when it came to a regular paycheck.
“The other cool thing I did was catering,” she said about time at the school. “We went to a person’s house and they had a $1,500 bottle of wine so we paired it with foods.”
After graduation, she found a job decorating cakes for a major grocery store chain. She would spend her days decorating hundreds of cakes. She got really good at it, but it wasn’t a good fit for her skills.
She then worked for a Rockford restaurant but that meant a lot of nights and weekends. It was the same situation at an area golf course where she racked up both a lot of long hours and nights commuting from her home.
Eventually a little coffee and cake shop just down U.S. 52 from her Amboy home went up for sale on a Monday.
“By Wednesday my husband and I decided we were going to take the plunge,” she said.
Kristy married Jake Dauck last September, before she became the chef-owner of the little shop in Sublette. He may not be a big fan of baked goods, but he is her number one supporter.
“I think in three years, she’s made me one cake,” he said.
She said she only bakes orders for friends and family, never for home, mostly because she didn’t have a lot of time.
“I always worked a full-time job and baked on the side,” she said.
Now that love of baking has become her full-time job. Her grandmother always told her to do something she loved and Dauck is following that advice to the letter.
She closely guards the recipes she has developed over the years, but she does have some advice for novice bakers.