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Meet Denise Geske

Today we’d like to introduce you to Denise Geske.  

Hi Denise, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve been in the culinary industry since I was 17. I went to college to pursue a degree in business but quickly learned after two years that college wasn’t for me. I decided to pursue a degree in culinary arts and continued to work in restaurants while attending school. After graduating, I worked in several restaurants to become a better cook. Ten years later I decided to leave the restaurant industry during the pandemic and continued to pursue my passion for cooking by doing private dinners and selling baked goods. It was the best decision I made for myself. I love being my own boss and being able to create something of my own using the techniques I’ve learned from my past jobs and doing my own research.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I’ve faced many challenges along the way. I worked long hours in an intense and fast-paced environment. I worked holidays and sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet. I had days of trial-and-error baking cookies because I know there’s always something to improve. Like many other creatives, I had self-doubts of whether I was going to make it in this industry or not. But no matter how much I wanted to quit; I never gave up on myself. I stayed working in the kitchen even if it was for free or little pay because I knew it would pay off in the end. All the struggles I had to go through made me strong and determined to do my best. Working in restaurants also gave me the blessings of connecting with amazing people and meeting famous chefs that I looked up to.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I work a full-time job outside of the culinary industry, but my side hustle is baking cookies and cakes. It started off as a quarantine project during the pandemic and it gained so much popularity that I made the decision to leave the restaurant and focus on baking. I am most known for selling cookies specifically my matcha and smores cookies. I take pride in using the best ingredients for my baked goods by using organically sourced ingredients and not adding preservatives. Our matcha is sourced from a Japanese market that gets their matcha from Kyoto, Japan. My goal is to one day run a micro-bakery in my house selling baked goods. I am proud of taking the leap of leaving something I’ve always known and challenging myself to pursue baking. It has definitely been a challenging journey because being a one-woman business owner means I do everything on my own. I take orders, grocery shop, bake, package, and deliver all of the baked goods myself. I was trained in culinary school to learn the “savory” side instead of “pastry,” so a lot of the things I am doing now are things I learned on my own.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
Growing up, I was shy and timid. In a way I still am! But selling cookies has definitely helped me be more social and interactive with new people I meet. I moved from the Philippines at the age of 8 and moved to a small town called Lake Arrowhead. It took me awhile to adjust living in America and socializing with my peers but joining a volleyball club team helped me gain new friends in school because we moved a few times growing up. My passion for cooking started as a way of my dad and I spending quality time together. In between volleyball seasons, we always watched Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats” and wanted to recreate almost everything he made. The way Alton always explained the science of food and watching him cook on tv was inspiring and it made me want to cook the dishes he made. I also found joy in baking cupcakes and crinkles for my friends at school during the holidays. Seeing their face light up receiving baked goods made me really happy because it was my way of showing my love for them. Once I stopped playing volleyball my sophomore year of college, I decided to take cooking seriously and go to school to learn how to make sauces, cook proteins, etc. Now I’m reverting back to baking again! Cooking will always be my love language. Cooking is a way to everyone’s heart.

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