Midvale • The kitchen has 3,200 square feet of cooking space. There is a giant oven, commercial mixers, refrigerators and a long butcher table for making pumpkin bread, chipotle caramel corn bacon and lemon and rosemary sables.
But that’s not the best thing about Flourish Bakery’s new home in Midvale, said executive director Aimee Altizer. “This will allow us to hire new interns and continue to grow.”
This is something that the nonprofit bakery – a culinary training and rehabilitation program for people recovering from an addiction or incarceration – has been unable to do for almost a year.
Flourish Bakery was informed last October had to leave the commercial kitchen he had rented on the Salt Lake Community College’s South City campus. School officials said the space was needed for their own educational and food programs.
It would be difficult to find a commercial kitchen with office and classroom space in Utah’s competitive real estate market. Added to this is the need to be close to public transport, as bakery interns generally lose their driver’s license or do not have vehicles to get to and from work.
And then the recipe was complicated by a pandemic.
Flourish Bakery operated in a temporary space at Salt Lake City’s Odyssey House while looking for a permanent home, Altizer said. He continued to manufacture and sell cookies, pies and breads – as well as soups, sandwiches and other savory items – at fairs, from his food truck and through his Internet network location.
The unknown future – and the small space – was difficult for intern Dennis Sisneros, who has been sober for almost two years. “It has been difficult,” he said, “and it has required our patience.”
But it also reminded him – again – of how to face the challenges.
It was the coronavirus shutdown that led Flourish to the commercial kitchen at 752 W. Center St. in Midvale (behind the Cricket Wireless store).
When major events were canceled, the catering company that previously rented the space was forced to close, Altizer said. The building went on sale in late July and, in mid-August, Flourish Bakery signed a new contract.
“The location chose us,” she said, adding that it came with everything the program needed, from storage and classroom space to commercial appliances. “It is the greatest gift that we don’t have to buy kitchen equipment.”
It is also centrally located – on a UTA bus line and five blocks from a TRAX station. This will allow the bakery to expand its customer base in the southern valley of Salt Lake County, said Altizer, a trained pastry chef who worked at several Utah restaurants and resorts before becoming an Episcopal priest.
She combined her passions two years ago when she helped launch Flourish Bakery with five interns, two instructors and several volunteers.
To be hired, trainees must be in recovery, attend therapy and addiction recovery meetings, and do the other tasks necessary to remain sober. In return, they work 32 to 40 hours a week at Flourish Bakery, earning $ 12 an hour. This allows them to pay rent, buy food and cover other expenses, while receiving professional training.
After completing the program, the intern participates in an external internship in a restaurant, bakery or ski resort. After real-world experience, they are ready to land a job in the industry.
The program operates with donations and sales, which should gain momentum when your new store opens to the public soon. The space will work especially well this Thanksgiving Day for the bakery’s annual “Pie it Forward” campaign.
“We are thrilled,” said Altizer, “because I am no longer a nomad.”