Baker’s Workshop set to become full-time student bakery

Suffolk Community College Culinary School
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kellyann Zito, 25, of Riverhead, in the Baker's Workshop kitchen earlier this summer. She was working on a 'Baking and Pastries Certificate' to improve her skills for her job at 'Sweet Jenni's Bakery' in Center Moriches.

It could be crusty loaves of semolina one week and slices of apple-pecan layer cake the next — and after that, a variety of hand-decorated sugar cookies.

Those are among baked goods that could pop up on the shelves of The Baker’s Workshop on East Main Street in Riverhead, depending on what culinary arts students at Suffolk County Community College are learning that week.

The bakery, set to open Tuesday is a transformation of the former Baker’s Workshop Café and Bistro. It will be a bakery only and will be run almost entirely by students.

Students previously contributed cooking to the café, but now they’ll take the reins on all aspects of food preparation and management.

“This will give them a good opportunity to see what it’s like working at a bakery,” said Christina DeLustro, professor and manager of The Baker’s Workshop.

Dave Bergen, associate dean of the culinary arts and hospitality center, said portions of the former café’s operations were curriculum-driven, but school officials wanted to focus on baking only, infusing education into every aspect.

That means no more sandwiches or burgers. But it does mean sweets — and lots of them.

The bakery won’t have a regular menu, as offerings will coincide with a changing curriculum. But treats likely to make appearances include scones, muffins, cupcakes, mousses, cakes and puff pastries.

Each culinary arts student must complete an internship, and working at the bakery will fill that requirement, Ms. DeLustro said. In addition to gaining management and customer service experience, students will learn a variety of baking techniques, including glazing, decorating, folding, creaming and mixing.

“We want to make sure they’re capable of making cookies, cakes and other staples in the industry,” Ms. DeLustro said.

Prices have not yet been set, but Ms. DeLustro said they’ll be comparable to those of other area bakeries. The bakery will operate as a nonprofit, as did the former café, and she expects it to break even.

The shop will offer much more than scones and muffins during October and November. That’s when students will serve “fine dining” dinners and lunches offering multiple courses that connected to the curriculum. But college officials say they don’t see The Baker’s Workshop as competition for other downtown eateries, since it won’t offer hot food most of the time.

“We think it’s going to be well-received by other eating establishments in downtown Riverhead,” Ms. DeLustro said.

The Baker’s Workshop will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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