INfrequently Asked Questions: How a mom-and-pop baker stays in shape
This week's Infrequently Asked Questions is with Raul Farfan, 55, of Elgin, head baker at Jarosch Bakery in Elk Grove Village. He started 34 years ago at age 21 as assistant to his father, then the head baker.
Q. Would you have gotten into this line of work had it not been for your dad?
A. "I came over here to work during spring break. Instead of going back to school, I stayed here."
Q. What did your dad teach you?
A. "Be responsible and do things right, because customers notice when it's sloppy. And they will complain."
Q. What are your work hours?
A. "I start at 3 a.m. It depends on the season. (Usually) from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. (During the Christmas season), it's like 3 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m.
Q. How many different items do you have to know how to make?
A. "I want to say we make more than 20 items here. Like the coffee cakes, Bundt cakes, strudels, sweet rolls."
Q. What is a typical day like?
A. "It depends on the day. On Monday, I come in at 2 o'clock and prepare Danish dough for another baker to start working on. Then after that I start baking cookies. … After 4:30, I bake all the cake layers and brownies. Whatever needs to be baked. Toward the end of the day Mondays and Wednesdays I do elephant ears, kolacky and cream puffs for the next day. Tuesdays, it's pastry squares for Wednesdays. We always do our stuff a day before, so when the guy comes in at night, he bakes it."
Q. Is there one that is your specialty?
A. "The new look coffee cake is one of my favorites. It's a square coffee cake."
Q. Is there a kind you like eating the most?
A. "That one."
Q. Is it possible to ever get tired of eating baked goods?
A. "You never get tired of eating baked goods. You always got to sample things that we make. The girls pull out a tray of samples for the customers and sometimes to see how it's doing, we have to eat it."
Q. How do you stay in shape?
A. "I don't stay in shape. I'm way overweight (laughing). You don't eat it all the time. You're used to it being there. ... In my spare time I referee high school soccer games."
Q. Is there always going to be mom-and-pop bakeries/
A. "There's a lot of competition from big-box stores, but I think some people still like their old-fashioned bakeries. They're still around. You've got (Central) Continental. You've got Deerfields Bakery. You've got ours. And then in Chicago. There's still demand."
Q. When are your busy times of year?
A. "Paczki Day, Easter, graduation sometimes, Thanksgiving and Christmas."
Q. When do you sleep?
A. "I sleep in two stages. I sleep in the afternoon from when I get home to maybe 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon. In the nighttime, I go to bed from around 9 o'clock to 2 o'clock in the morning."
Q. What do you enjoy most?
"Mostly the people around you. They're fun people. And my baking and producing stuff for people in the store."
INfrequently Asked QuestionsA weekly feature of the Daily Herald that explores the sides of suburbanites' jobs or hobbies that you might have always wondered about. To see more, go to www.dailyherald.com/topics/INfrequently-Asked-Questions/