Renato Poliafito is the co-owner of BAKED bakery, (359 Van Brunt St. , Red Hook), which he opened in January 2005 with his business partner Matt Lewis. He did website design and advertising until shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when he decided to switch careers. His original intention was to open a coffee shop, but a love for baking (and chocolate) drove Poliafito and Lewis, AKA "The Gentleman Bakers," to open a bakery instead. Poliafito, 39, lives in Gowanus with his partner.
Why did you switch careers?
I was interested in baked goods ? and I was young enough so I decided to take that leap.
How is your bakery different than other bakeries?
We do try to put a slightly modern spin on our recipes. ... Our environment, what we sell, you'll find are very different than your cookie-cutter bakeries ... We don't focus just on cupcakes ? and we try to make the best possible version of everything.
What's fun in Red Hook?
I spend an awful lot of time Fairway ? There's a bunch of great stores and art galleries ? a lot of great new restaurants that have opened up ? and I love getting brunch at home/made (293 Van Brunt St.), which is delicious. So, mainly eating.
So do you cook?
I am a baker I'm not in the kitchen anymore. ? I do like to cook, I like to bake, but when I am baking it's for recipe-tasting for our books. We just finished our fourth cookbook and that comes out in October of 2014. The last cookbook that came out was last year and it's called "Baked Elements."
What's the strangest thing someone has asked you to write on a cake?
We get a lot of strange requests, sometimes we don't fulfill them. ? I think something that comes to mind is something that says 'sigh' on it. ? I was just like, 'OK, why would you want to put a sigh on a cake?' Another strange one was 'Happy Birthday Princess Pee.' And they were very specific, they were like, 'make sure you write p-e-e.'
What do you want to do next with your business?
We have some items coming out, we have a line of mixes at Williams-Sonoma and we actually just launched the new gluten-free version of our mixes - gluten free versions of our brownies and gluten-free versions of our brooksters (a chocolate chip cookie baked inside a brownie) which will be available in Williams-Sonoma's around the country. We're also launching a line of cookware from Anchor Hockins.
Are you happy with your career switch?
Definitely - I mean it's taken a long time for us to get to where we are now and it's not an easy road by any means, it' not for the fare hearted either ? but I don't think I would have been wanting to do anything else.
Do you have any advice for readers who are considering a career 180?
Know that a hobby and a career aren't the same thing ? people may love to bake cookies for friends or bake cupcakes at home, but it's completely different when you open up a bakery and you go from making 12 cupcakes for your friends to 600 cupcakes a day, every day.
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