Customers often ask, “What is a day is like at Suzuya?” They’re interested in how their favorite cakes and pastries get made. “What time do you come in every morning? Are these cakes fresh? How many people are working back there? Is it easier now that you have a bigger space?”
To answer that first question, I always think back to an old U.S. Army advertisement with the headline, “We do more before 9am than most people do all day.” We have the Army beat on this one, by a few hours! Our day starts around 3am most days (even earlier on major holidays). Checking pre-orders for the day, turning on equipment and setting up the stations are the beginnings of a very long, but fun day.
After our (early) morning setup is done, our kitchen staff begins whipping creams, slicing fruit, baking the puffs and assembling and decorating the cakes to fill the pre-orders and for display in the showcase. Although we continue to finish cakes and pastries for sale throughout the day, we also begin production for the next day, making batters, baking sponge cake, mixing doughs…
Making beautiful cakes is the primary job of our kitchen staff, but they also check in deliveries, an often over looked part of their daily routine. Every day, we have food items and other items delivered by our vendors. Some come very early. Others come throughout the day. As each new shipment arrives, it must be checked in. Each item is inspected for quality and accuracy, before being put away in its proper place.
In addition to making pastries and cakes, we have brought back our crepes. We also started offering breakfast toasts and sandos. With our new location, we also have a larger drink menu. Each morning, our hotline staff makes sure we have all the ingredients for the crepes, slices bread for the toast and help with the finishing of the pastries for sale.
Our front staff begins by “dialing in” the espresso machine. Making sure the grind of the beans and the timing of the water through the filter is correct to pull the perfect shot of espresso. The front staff also makes sure that the front area is stocked: cups, stirrers, straws, sugars and cream for the coffee and drinks; plates, napkins, utensils for the pastries and hot food; folding boxes for the whole cakes while also making sure the dining area and restrooms are clean and set for our customers.
All of this takes place before we open our doors at 7am each morning, seven days a week!
After the initial rush of the morning is over and most of the pre-orders have been filled and the showcase is stocked for the day, we begin prep for the following day. Our staff begins baking sponge cake, mixing batters and doughs and placing orders for the next day’s deliveries.
From start to finish, cakes take a long time to complete. They start with simple ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs and butter. There’s a lot of work that goes into the final look and taste: from properly mixing the batter, baking to the right texture, cooling each cake, making the fillings (mixing creams, slicing fruit…), assembling, decorating and packaging. A lot of time and skill goes into each pastry. Our goal is to always make the freshest, most beautiful pastries for our customers, so we pay close attention to every detail along the way.
Day after day, working in a kitchen is very long and very hard work but it is all worth it when you see the smiles on people’s faces when they pick up their cakes to celebrate the special occasions in their lives.