Bakery teaches next generation
Young Hillsboro residents learned a few tips and tricks in the kitchen this month thanks to a local baker.
Melissa Brue, owner and pastry chef at Blue Moon Bakery, 560 S.E. Fourth Ave., opened her doors to a few dozen area children during spring break, as part of a series of baking classes at her small commercial kitchen.
Hosting 15 classes over five days for kids as young as 4 years old, Brue covered all the basics of baking, from how to make pies and cookies to "cooking basics" and easy dinners.
Some kids learned how to make tasty treats, which they brought home for their families, others learned easy dinner and after school snack recipes to be able to make for themselves any day.
A mother of two, Brue said she has always loved interacting with kids, and decided to teach the baking and cooking classes as a way to encourage kids to get in the kitchen.
Most schools no longer teach cooking basics to students, Brue said.
"They don't have cooking classes in school anymore, so they just aren't learning that skill," she said. "It's just such an important skill and kids love to be in the kitchen."
Brue makes sure the kids get as much hands-on experience as they can, she said, and steps in as infrequently as possible to give young bakers the chance to grow. She teaches them the basic skills as well as patience for the art of baking.
"I tell the kids, 'Do you play an instrument? It's just like that," she said. "You're not very good at first, but you have to practice and you get better. I didn't go to school to be a pastry chef, I went to school to be an architect and I own a bakery now."
Brue originally planned to be an architect, but turned to baking when her family needed some extra income a decade ago. She sold her whole wheat treats at local farmers markets.
"I didn't grow up wanting to have a bakery," she said. "I'm an accidental baker."
She named her small business "Tasty Bites Bakery." When the business took off unexpectedly, Brue took an opportunity to buy Blue Moon Bakery in 2010, she said, expanding the menu and transforming the shop into a gluten-free bakery.
Eight years later, Brue still bakes for the local farmers markets and distributes her products to 30 to 40 wholesale accounts, she said.
After a successful week of classes, Brue said she has received high demand from parents wanting to get their kids involved and even some adults wanting to take gluten-free classes. She will host more sessions over the next two months. Those interested can sign up through her website, bluemoonbakerypdx.com.