I was recently offered a job at a grocery chain bakery (brookshires)and was wondering what to expect, will I only be decorating or all aspects, what kind of pay is going on , I think I heard about a union but not sure is there different pay for wedding cakes???? Thanks all in advance.
I worked for Brookshire Bros. grocery chain for 3 1/2 yrs (9 years ago, before I had my children). I loved my job, and learned many things over my time as a cake decorator.
What to expect?:
My job was as part of a bakery/deli in the store, and many days I would not only be decorating cakes, but also cutting meat, frying chicken, baking bread, pies, cookies, and waiting on customers. The life of a grocery store cake decorator is very challenging. Be prepared to work weekends, and holidays...those are some of the busiest times in this line of work. When I was the "head decorator", I was also required to come in one Sunday every month to do inventory of the cake decorating section. (We counted everything!)
What kind of pay/union/wedding cakes?:
(It's been so long since I worked this job I would be scared to venture a guess as to the pay scale now.) There was no union at the time that I worked for the store. But as a full time employee, I was able to get health/disability insurance, participate in a profit sharing program, and 401K plan. As for the wedding cakes, I would say I did at least 10 to 15 while I worked, and unfortunately, that is just part of the job, and I did NOT get paid any extra for them. (Also, I had other cake orders due out at the same time!)
I hope this isn't overwhelming, and I hope this answers your questions. I would say to go for it! You could learn so much, and the practice you will get is priceless! A few times a year, they would have the "Cake Tech" come in, and I would get to "play". She taught me many new things, and I learned so much from the time she spent with me. (That would be MY dream job!) This is also where I picked up an airbrush for the first time, and my first experience with edible images. I wouldn't trade my experience with that job for anything in the world, I found it very rewarding , and would probably be there still if I had not decided to stay home with my children!
Sorry SOOOOO long!
I just left a job of 3 and a half yrs at a retail grocery bakery. I was hired in as a decorator, it was the first actual bakery I had ever worked at.
Previously, I had done cakes at home, wedding and birthday, and also worked at Dairy Queen doing ice cream cakes for about 3 yrs.
Now, let me just say that I didn't know what to expect either. So I understand your apprehension. And you may or may not be required to work in the Deli. If you can avoid it, it's really a hassle and I didn't enjoy that part of the job. But, on to the cake part....
The first week, I worked Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with the well seasoned cake decorator they already had. She helped me learn a few tricks I didn't know, and THEN TOOK THE WEEKEND OFF!!
Yes, I was left on my own, and it took me about 10 minutes just to ice down a cake. (At Dairy Queen we didn't have to ice them, it was just a border and a decoration on top of ice cream.) I had about 20 orders that day, and I worked from 7:30 til I was done, which was about 8pm...This is including constant interruptions, which you will undoubtedly have in a retail bakery. Just get used to it.
Anyhoo.... It was like jumping in the deep end of the pool when you just graduated from swimming lessons. I had never done DecoPac kit cakes before, and I just thank God I didn't have any wedding cakes to do that day. By the way, the kits are very easy and fun, so I picked those right up.
Another thing to expect, is that you have to do it faster than at home. You have to keep the display cases filled with birthday cakes, and that takes time. The faster you are, the more cakes you get done, and the more money the store makes. So you can't take a half hour to do one cake. But speed comes with time, and you'll get faster as you keep doing it.
Of course, I did get better at it, and faster. And that is what you can expect to gain from this job. You will learn all kinds of new tricks, and just like anything, practice makes you better and faster. And soon you will be an "expert" at it. You'll soon have the little girls and even grown women standing at the counter, watching you decorate, acting like you are performing magic tricks...It's pretty funny.
I don't know if you are planning to do this grocery store thing as a career, or just a stepping stone to something else later on. But jump in and learn all you can, ask all kinds of questions, and if you're lucky enough to be working with other more experienced decorators, make them teach you everything they know. It's a free education in cakes... Invaluable experience if you ever decide to open your own shop...
Any grocery store manager will tell you that a good cake decorator is a hard position to keep filled in a grocery store, so enjoy the respect you get. You can do something that most of your coworkers can't!
Incidentally, I ended up running the entire bakery before I left to pursue other things. But I wouldn't trade that experience for anything, I really enjoyed it for the most part.
As far as pay, I don't know if you are in a metro area or not, but where I live, $7.00 is about the minimum for a new decorator with little or no bakery experience, and it goes up from there.
If you have alot of experience and don't need to be trained, you shouldn't do it for less than $9-10 an hour. This is possibly a low scale because I am not in a metro area, so if you are in a metro area, I would think it would be more.
Remember you are working your hands hard every day, and it takes a toll. And you have to be pretty creative to do this job. These things are worth more money than someone running a cash register!
I think you'll enjoy it, I know I did. It was one of the most fun jobs I have ever had.