Kerry Vincent has a wonderful can-do spirit borne from her childhood in the wilds of Australia. When people are that self-reliant, little fazes them, and that's the perfect attitude for righting failing businesses.
Vincent is the fixer on Food Network's "Save My Bakery," airing Wednesdays. She knows how wonderful a neighborhood bakery should be.
"For me, when you walk into a bakery, any bakery, there becomes a sense of atmosphere," she tells Zap2it.
It goes beyond picking up a dozen rolls and a pie "but having an experience," she says.
A thriving bakery needs to stay true to its roots while offering a new experience, she says.
"Everything is over the top, and people want instant gratification," Vincent says. "The mums of the world are happy to keep going there to get a loaf of bread and a couple of Danish and go home.
"At end of the day you have this Catch-22. They want to lean over the counters and have a chat with and know all about cousins and babies, and the new customers are coming in and taking photos on phone."
Bakeries are often family affairs with everyone working hard. When people spend some 17 hours at the shop, they're too tired to attend conventions and learn new ways, Vincent says.
Yet people tell Vincent they don't understand why their bakeries are failing, especially if they have been making the same popular recipes for 100 years.
"Well, actually, they are not, because flour has changed, and sugar has changed," she says.
At this writing, Vincent had visited seven bakeries in the Northeast. She had not yet told people their bakeries were beyond saving.
"But believe me, I am not afraid to say that," Vincent says. "When you find people overextending themselves financially that they don't ever understand maybe this isn't the right thing for me to be doing, and dipping into savings that will make their old age miserable. I am not the old lady wandering in saying nasty things. I am the wake-up call, and sometimes I think if I don't wake up them, they will have to close it themselves."
What are you currently reading?
"I am mostly focused on recipe books."
What did you have for dinner last night?
"A sandwich, actually, chicken and apple and walnuts and cranberries."
What is your next project?
"Focusing on the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show, and more episodes with "Save My Bakery." Once I get that under my belt, the Sugar Art Show that is 21 years in the making, and also about helping bakers and decorators to do better."
When was the last vacation you took - where and why?
"I have been constantly getting out of town and doing episodes of 'Save My Bakery,' then I go home and recharge."
Photo/Video credit: Food Network